The co-main event of UFC on FOX 20 tonight (July 23, 2016) featured two lightweights trying to inject themselves into the title picture. Vaunted Brazilian striker Edson Barboza battled former Strikeforce ace Gilbert Melendez.
“El Nino” flicks out two jabs then comes around with an overhand right that lands. Barboza responds with a leg kick. The two exchange punches but nothing lands flush. Melendez shoots, but the Brazilian shucks him off. Melendez misses with two right hooks, and Barboza almost connects with a counter right. “El Nino” fakes a shot to try to hit an overhand but Barboza spins away. Melendez looks for a front kick as they separate, but it’s short. The Skrap Pack rep lands a right uppercut, but is met with a left uppercut and hook from Barboza. Barboza hits a kick to the body, but Melendez catches it and almost takes him down, but Barboza is able to escape after eating a knee to the body along the fence. Barboza lands a few leg kicks and then a spinning back kick to the body. Melendez lands a right uppercut, and the two connect simultaneously on left hooks. Melendez lands a straight right, slips a counter left hook beautifully, and throws a multi-punch combo that is mostly blocked. Barboza lands a couple jabs, but the rest of his combo comes up short. Barboza hits Melendez’s body with a wickedly fast body kick. With a minute left in the fight, the two exchange punches in the center of the cage, both landing cleanly at times. Barboza pushes Melendez back with a couple kicks, but Gilbert pushes right back to the center. The exciting round ends with Barboza uncorking a jumping knee, but it doesn’t really land.
Round two begins with the two exchanging left hooks again. Both men are throwing a lot, slipping some, but absorbing plenty of punches. Barboza flicks out a couple jabs, but Melendez counters with a hard straight. Melendez shoots, but Barboza slips away and Melendez falls to his back. Barboza kicks at his legs for a moment before stepping away and letting him up. He lands a brutal outside leg kick that drops Melendez, who pops right back up. But he is met with another that staggers him. Gilbert throws a 1-2, but is met with another low kick. Barboza throws a wicked switch kick to body, followed by a head kick that is blocked. Melendez lands a flush overhand right that has Barboza wobbled and in retreat. He lands again, but Barboza bites down and slings back. The two momentarily clinch, but quickly separate and return to the center. There is a lull in the action as the two feint on the edge of range. Barboza steps in with a cross, but Melendez slips and lands one of his own. The Brazilian responds with another outside leg kick. Barboza misses with a winging left hook. A Melendez body kick is caught and Barboza takes him down. He rains down hard right hands as the round comes to a close.
Rounds begins with two more leg kicks from the Brazilian. Melendez hits a 1-2, but backs away after the second kick. Barboza lands two more but eats a right hook from the former Strikeforce champ. Barboza continues to attack the lead leg of “El Nino”, whose movement is extremely compromised. Melendez throws a 1-2 but it is well short as he can’t move after Barboza. Melendez lands a body shot, but absorbs another leg strike. The Skrap Pack leader shoots but can’t follow through and Barboza easily escapes. Forever game, Melendez throws bombs when he can close the distance, but it is not often enough. Barboza is using his footwork and speed to stay well away from his hurt opponent. With a minute left, Barboza flicks out an inside leg kick. Another 1-2 from Melendez falls short. The two lightweights circle for a time. With 15 seconds left the two stand in the pocket and trade a few punches, but quickly separate. As the final ten seconds tick off the clock, the two lightweights step away from each other and raise their hands. They embrace after the bell.
Final Result: Edson Barboza def. Gilbert Melendez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).