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Gilbert Melendez is Right Back in the Mix for a Shot at the UFC Lightweight Title

Posted on by Andrew Potter

Gilbert Melendez Strikeforce Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is back in the mix for a shot at the UFC lightweight title after a Fight of the Night performance against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in Houston, picking up an unanimous decision win.

Melendez dropped a split decision to former champion Benson Henderson in their title fight in April, but UFC president Dana White told the media in Houston that Anthony Pettis recently winning the title opens the door for Melendez.

“It’s very good for him that Pettis did win that fight (against Henderson) because he just got done fighting Henderson and it definitely puts him back in the mix for the title shot,” White said.

“That was a Mexican world war in there. It was just awesome. In the 13 years I’ve been in this company I’ve seen some amazing fights, but I don’t think I’ve seen one like that.”

Melendez and Sanchez became an instant classic after their three-round war, which was dubbed the “best fight ever,” with Sanchez holding Melendez, a former training partner, in high regard.

“I take my hat off to Gilbert,” Sanchez said. “I believe he is the No. 1 lightweight in the world. I thought he was the uncrowned champ going into this fight. I thought he beat Benson Henderson and he avenged his other two losses too. He’s one of the best in the world.”

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  • Big Tuna

    Gil can bang, Diego should’ve tried striking after dropping him but either way Gil is a beast and I’m glad he reps la gente

  • Mark McDowall

    I don’t see how him beating a not top 10 ranked opponent really helps him that much. Did he put on a show…hell yes he did…amazing fight…but using MMAth it shouldn’t really affect where he was before.

    • John Bunch

      I would think losing a split decision to the former champ already solidified his top 5 status, and imo, he won that Benson fight. I get your point, but Gil is one of, if not THE best LW in the world at this moment. If he gets a title shot, not sure how anyone can question that.

      • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

        There’s a list of LW that have been battling each other in the UFC that would disagree with Gilbert being the best LW in the world. He did his thing in Strikeforce with his best win being Josh Thompson. He came over and lost to Henderson and barely beat Diego. There’s a long list of names for him to fight still. How would you feel about Jim Miller or Kahbib N?

        • Mark McDowall

          Are you coming over to my side finally lol. Your exactly right…he has been fighting in StrikeForce which were not as tough of a set of opponents as there are in the UFC. His win over Thompson, as well as his loss to Thompson don’t forget, where his biggest fights in StrikeForce.

          I think Gil is up there, and yes he is still in the title hunt. But seeing that he did win this fight by a slim margin it could seem to hurt him a little if you take the awesomeness of the fight out of it. A close decision with an unranked opponent doesn’t do alot for you. But we all know that the UFC wants to put on exciting fights rather than fights that the fighters have earned so we could see him in a title fight soon. Who knows.

          I think Khabib would be a great next fight for him.

          • John Bunch

            I definitely can’t argue with someone’s opinion, I can only offer mine. Until Gil gets trashed by someone, I think he’s ONE of the best…I should have said that, tbh. Like I said, my opinion is he won the Bendo fight and by logical extension, because that would make him undefeated in the UFC, he is on quite a win streak and should have been defending the belt a while ago. But fortunately for the real world, my opinion means nuts. He should definitely get a top 5 guy next and if he wins, then he should get a title shot. I have to trust Bas on this one…despite being in SF for so long, he is one of the best, if not the best. I guess we’ll know in one or two more fights.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            They should rebook that Pat Healy fight.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Ezxactly. Plenty of more fights for him. That division is stacked or did everybody forget that.

        • El Gvapo

          Barely beat Diego? Come on man, you usually speak sense on here. It was a great fight but the decision was never in question. Yes it was a great fight but that doesn’t make it close. Diego had one chance to win and he blew it by going for a choke instead of strikes.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            I respect Gil but it’s not like he smashed Diego. Great fight either way I just want tough fights for El Nino.

          • uncle

            I think Barboza would wreck him

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Wow I overlooked him completely. You know he is 6-1 and deserves a big fight if he beats Danny Castillo. Very nice thinking though my friend.

          • Fern

            gil definitely smashed Diego. Everyone talks about how Diego “dropped” gil, but gil dropped sanchez several times and the only reason he got “dropped” in the 3rd was because he was weaving out in a backwords momentum trying to avoid the uppercut, and he lost his balance temporarily. You can clearly see that he was not wobbled soon after he got up.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Good point you got me there. Great fight either way. To bad Edgar went down and Maynard is busy I always wanted those two fights for Gil.

          • Guest

            wtf are you talking about? Snaches hit Gil behind the ear then gave him a hook that made him fall not him losing his balance

          • El Gvapo

            Come on man, you’re smarter than that. He smashed Diego, just didn’t finish him. I’d say the only person who has laid more of a beating on Sanchez is BJ. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Gil deserves a title shot after this but he deserves credit for his performance.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Yes it was a good fight. I just don’t want to see him getting another shot so fast because there is a long list of guys to face in the UFC. I would love to see him fight Gray Maynard.

        • MMA

          Dislike. You are crazy if you thought he barely beat Diego. He out-struck him 96-42. Gil outclassed Diego. I had my doubts when he first came over but his performance against Benson showed he is one of the best.

      • Plumber man

        Gil won 2 round not even close if it wasn’t the 3rd knock down witch Made it exciting also didn’t hv to go toe to toe And show everybody a good fight , the fight was not even a close fight But very exciting

      • Guest

        wrong, Pettis would’nt ko anyone w a punch i think you mean a kick bud

    • Kenny Powers

      Please bro, use your head. Gil was the best in strikeforce for years. He comes over to the UFC and in many opinions beats the champ. Then puts on this war with a former title challenger in Diego. Even tho Diego’s not ranked he can hang w/ most of the top 10 at LW. Not to mention the other strikeforce guy is fighting for the title now. The only guys truly ahead of Gil at LW right now are Pettis & Bendo, even tho i think he beat Ben. I still think Pettis takes him but Gil is no doubt at least #2 or 3 in the world at this moment. TJ is up there too but he’s still behind Gil.

      • Mark McDowall

        Your first sentence proves my point…the best in STRIKEFORCE. Thats like saying your the best AA ball player. I’m not saying he’s a slouch by anymeans. Just have to look at the level of competition he faced for the majority of your career.

        I think he only fought 1 top 10 ranked fighter before coming to the UFC…that doesn’t exactly. And he did loose to Josh Thompson while over there.

        • Kenny Powers

          You can say the same about the WEC fighters. Look at the LW rankings now. 4 of the 5 BEST in the world are from Strikeforce and WEC. You can deny them and say they haven’t fought top competition but once they got to the UFC, they topped the best the UFC had to offer.

          • Mark McDowall

            The majority of WEC fighters have come over and done well. The strikeforce fighters…not so much. Its not denying them…it’s facts…before he fought Bendo…Melendez fought 1 top 10 ranked fighter in his career. A winning record is impressive but if the list of wins are against a bunch of no names then is it really that impressive? Not really…

        • John Bunch

          But I think the problem with your argument becomes a matter of you making assumptions. So far in the UFC he fought the former champ to a split decision and won a brawl with someone who has never been ko’d or submitted. Let’s say just for a second Gil did look bad last night, which I disagree with, you’re making the assumption his bad performance was a result of deficiencies in his game and not him simply having an off night. It just seems to me that anyone that is being objective could easily look at his Bendo fight and see that he at least had a shot at being the Champ in the UFC LW division and that should lay all arguments about him being overrated to rest. Is he better than Pettis, who can say until they fight. I just can’t respect the statement he’s overrated…unless Bendo is overrated, in which case, I could agree with your logic. So do you think Bendo is overrated?

          • Mark McDowall

            To an extent I do think Bendo is a bit over rated. BUT I think Bendo can beat the majority of the top LW’s…Pettis has his number for sure but does that mean that Pettis can beat ALL the top LW’s…I don’t think so. But we will see…

          • Kenny Powers

            Well, if you look at the landscape of the LW division, I agree, I think Pettis takes Gil, but personally I think he beat Bendo, he beat Thomson twice, and he won’t fight Nate. But judging by styles and his skills, I think it’s safe to say he could beat most of the division, Maynard, Dos Anjos, Miller, Cerrone. I think TJ would be a good fight for Gil. Khabib would be interesting too cuz he’s undefeated and no one has figured him out yet, but we’ll have to wait and see.

        • Juan

          WOW you really are ignorant about mma, that was more than FIVE years ago, who won the last two fights? Man can you do some fact checking before you try to make one of your meaningless points.

          • Guest

            Gil did not decisively beat Bendo, it was very close split decision in which it could be argued that either or won the bout, as for ignorance, you are s*** talking that Thompson’s win over Gil was 5 yrs ago but still defend your argument that Gil beat Thompson twice? that was also long ago my friend which makes your crappy rant qualify as ignorance!!! FYI Gil beat Thompson both times but was not decisively one of the fights more than the other was argued as a win for Thompson. you should go check your own facts before you send another person to do so.

    • Juan

      he beat the guy fighting for the lw championship twice?? josh Thompson and he clearly beat benson but got robbed on a horrible decision, damn do you watch mma or just talk out of ur ass??

      • Mark McDowall

        He also lost to the guy fighting for the championship…

  • uncle

    Yes ,Yes ,Yes I was looking forward to Diego winning
    this 1.. to expose a overrated Melendez

    • John Bunch

      lmao…overrated…that made my morning. Thanks bro.

      • Mark McDowall

        If you look at the quality of the opponents Gil was fighting before he got to the UFC there is a VERY strong argument for him being over rated.

        I think a fighters rank should be based on the quality of there opponents as much as the #of wins they have.

        • John Bunch

          I was actually addressing the attitude motivating that post, not the actual merit of such a tiny little post. If he had qualified “overrated” with some kind argument, I might have ignored it or even addressed it. However, his intent was to slight the credibility of Gil and that made me laugh. We can all speculate about how good Gil is, but until someone in the UFC decisively beats him, we really don’t know. We can only offer opinions…my word of the day, apparently.

          • El Gvapo

            Damn straight. There’s plenty of these “overrated” strikeforce fighters doing rather well in the UFC. People said the same thing when WEC folded into the UFC ranks, apparently their fighters wouldn’t stand a chance.

          • Kyle Pollard

            I agree. Nobody in the UFC has “Beaten” him. Ben got the win, and Diego lost. Gilbert also has two wins over the guy who is about to fight the champ Anthony Pettis.

      • uncle

        Was this a great fight yes. but who has he beaten in the UFC to be top gun ? im
        not jumping on the band wagon I really
        never thought he was all that in even in Strikeforce Pettis will destroy him

        • John Bunch

          I would love to see him fight Pettis, but after his questionable split decision loss to Benson, he has to work his way up the food chain. I have a feeling we’ll all find out if he’s overrated or not in the next year. Someone was dogging Gil for nearly getting dropped by Diego…I remember Mark Hunt almost submitting Fedor and it didn’t diminish my appreciation for Fedor. Randleman almost broke Fedor’s neck but he recovered. Condit nearly dropped GSP with a head kick but GSP won decisively. Darin said it best…Gil did not back down from a straight up brawl when he could have. He didn’t do what so many people disparage other fighters for doing; he didn’t play it safe.

          • uncle

            Yeah he got dropped and still didn’t play it safe, I like that but he
            needs to finish some1 like Miller,Cerrone, Grant to pass the eye test.

          • John Bunch

            I gotcha man. Would love to see him fight Grant. I think everyone here can agree that Gil brings it to every fight.

    • Juan

      what drugs are you on?? can I get some gilbert overrated? do pigs fly when ur on these drugs?

  • battle ready

    Styles make fights and styles can bring out the best in fighters like it did in this fight. Is gilbert better than diego? Just look at diego’s face. But gilbert’s style brought the best diego, one that seems to have been missing for some time. Congrats to both for the most exciting fight in a long time if not ever.

  • Darin

    I used to dislike Gil. I guess I thought he hadn’t earned the confidence he had and hadn’t earned the right to call himself the best LW in the world.

    But, after his fight with Bendo I gained some respect for him. I thought he won that fight, but he took his decision loss without bitching about it. Then, he takes a fight against Sanchez, a much lower ranked but very dangerous fighter. This was a big risk. Then, he goes toe to toe with Sanchez and throws caution to the wind in a slugfest (nearly getting knocked out in the third)…. I’m starting to like Gil. I’d like to see him fight Pettis.

  • CoffeeAndBeer

    Beautiful fight!
    I love Melendez.
    Sanchez is a maniac.
    Beautiful fight, is all I can say.

  • Fat Bloke

    I hope Nick Diaz gets his enthusiasm back after watching Gilbert and Jake get back in contention. Working your way back to a title shot is a lot more effective than threatening to retire unless you get one.

    • Big Tuna

      Why? He’s junior varsity! Can’t win against top level UFC competition

  • The Best Eva

    That was epic, I wasn’t too sold on either guy before this fight but they are both bad asses.