Does Gilbert Melendez Already Deserve Another Title Shot?


Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez made a huge statement with his hard-fought win over Diego Sanchez at last weekend’s UFC 166 card from Houston.

It was a fight that tons of MMA fans are already calling the best fight in the UFC history. Whether you believe that or not, it can’t be denied that Melendez and Sanchez laid it all on the line and delivered in a big way. It was also the kind of fight that UFC President Dana White loves. He was quick to state the win puts Melendez back into immediate title contention at 155-pounds:

“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 is referring to Anthony Pettis’ first round submission win over then-champion Ben Henderson at August’s UFC 164. ‘Showtime’ took the belt from ‘Smooth’ that night, and now the flashy champ will face off with Josh ‘Punk’ Thomson at December’s UFC on Fox 9 card.

Melendez, who lost a controversial split decision to Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 this April, had a storied trilogy with Thomson that he ultimately won (although Melendez’ last win was controversial in its own right). ‘Punk’ made a huge statement at the TUF 17 Finale by knocking out Nate Diaz with an emphatic headkick.

By using MMA math, Melendez is indeed more than deserving of another UFC title shot. While that math rarely proves to be true when the Octagon door closes, Melendez’ fighting spirit can’t be denied. He went to war with Sanchez, knowing that his unranked opponent presented much more of a challenge than the numbers would suggest.

And he was nearly knocked out cold for his efforts. It could be argued that if Sanchez didn’t look for a submission after rocking Melendez in the third round, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But ‘El Nino’ recovered like the champ he is, and he earned the decision to fight on towards his ultimate goal.

Does he deserve to fight for the belt his next time out? I’d have to say yes. Pettis and Thomson will have their day in early December, putting the winner on a plausible collision course with Melendez. If Thomson wins, a fourth bout with Melendez for the UFC title would be poetic justice.

It may not be the most hyped or promoted bout, but it definitely has potential; especially for fans who’ve followed that rivalry in Strikeforce. If Pettis wins, then a bout with Melendez could be absolutely epic. Both Pettis and Melendez love to scrap and bring a diverse, complete skillset to the Octagon.

White is correct when he suggests that Melendez benefited from ‘Showtime’s’ impressive win. ‘El Nino’ had control of his own destiny against one of the most resilient fighters the UFC has ever seen in Sanchez. He won of the most rousing battle s in Octagon history, and now there is really no other direction for him to go than another title shot.

A rematch with Henderson or a fight against T.J. Grant is a bit unnecessary at this point. Do you think ‘El Nino’ should fight for the belt once more in his next fight?

Outer Photo: Andrew Richardson for USA TODAY Sports

  • I think his style matches up well against Pettis, he's more deserving than most of the 155'ers. Grant needs his fight that he earned but then who? He beat the man who's fighting now, He'd barelyyy lost his own title fight vs Bendo and he just won his next fight. Either give him Grant for a title eliminator fight, or while Grant trains to fight next give him 1 more top 155er and then since I think he'll beat pretty much anyone else he'll get his title shot after.

  • Yeah I agree, there's just not many options other than a title shot for Gil. It would be crazy if Thomson pulls off the upset and they already find themselves in a fourth fight.

  • Definitely deserves a shot, I thought he could have won the decision against Henderson.

  • Whether people agree or not, I'd love to see that scrap.

  • El Nino Vs Smooth to fight the winner of Showtime Vs Punk for the belt….. Is it me or did that just read like a WWE paper view? lol

    • You know what.. that's exactly how i feel man. Gilbert should rematch Henderson before there's talk about a title fight. That fight was close and even though most of us think he won, he didn't! So it makes sense to settle that sh*t once and for all! It will pull good numbers too…

      • That is a great rematch. Haven't heard anything about Ben, wonder if if he's still hurt. Nurmagomedov vs. Smooth would be good as well. Hope he returns sooner than later.

        • Mike that right there is a GREAT fight too! I would love to see that… Nurmagomedov has done some impressive stuff so far and he deserves a top 5 opponent for sure!

  • im a bigger melendez fan than i am pettis fan but i do believe pettis would murder melendez with ease. i'd give melendez the title shot but wouldnt get my hopes up on it.

  • Would be awesome…Yet Gilbert won't be able to handle Pettis kicks, like he did with Diego's kicks.. Yet would be one awesome fight…

  • @Rory….so many guys instinctively go for a double leg take down after completing rocking their opponents. I don't know how many fights I have watched where guys have been able to recover because of the added seconds of completing a takedown and then trying to get in dominant position.

    • yeah it drives me nuts every single time… they should drill that during camp… opponent rocked? rain down the punches and by NO MEANS try and sink in a choke! especially on someone with great Jitz…

      • @experience…where are the flying knees, vicious flurry of punches and crazy hammer fists we you need them ?

      • If, would of, could of, give it a rest guys Melendez won fair and square.

  • Ivy

    I like watching him fight, but man did he hit every branch on the ugly tree on the way down when he fell out of the nest or what?

  • What does it mean where the article say Gilbert won a controversial fight in his last win? Is he talking about the Diego fight?

    • I see no controversy with Diego and Melendez. The both dropped each other once and Melendez won 85% of the exchanges all night. Plus Diego took WAY more damage. Those debating that are being bias or just plain silly.

      • Ivy

        Yep, Diego took a beating, and I mean "took" it. He had his hands down most of the time and walked straight into those punches. I honestly think Diego is mentally ill and shouldn't be fighting. He's been hit in the head way too many times.