Gilbert Melendez: How Does Last Night's Fight Affect His Stock?

Carter NordikeContributor IMay 20, 2012

Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson duked it out for the third time last night (
Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson duked it out for the third time last night (

Last night, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and former champ Josh Thomson completed their trilogy of fights, with Melendez earning the win in the rubber match by split decision.

When Thompson secured Melendez's back in the fourth round and threatened with a rear naked choke, many believed that he deserved the victory. After all, the fight was close, and Melendez looked tired in the championship rounds.

This mentality destroys Melendez's stock in people's minds, leading them to believe that if he could not dominate Thomson, then he would falter against the top lightweights in the UFC. However, many still believe that Melendez is arguably the best 155-pound fighter in the world, based on his wins over fighters such as Clay Guida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki and Jorge Masvidal. 

So, what is fact here? Is Melendez a sham? Is he a good talent but not championship material? Or is he really the best in the world?

People seem to really be underrating Thomson. Even here on this site, he has been talked about as a person that should not even be an obstacle for Melendez at this stage in his career.

Now, Thomson is not a top-tier mixed martial artist. However, he is extremely well rounded and holds some impressive victories, including some solid wins in the UFC. He managed to turn Melendez's eye into a giant mess last night.

It is obvious that Melendez was the better mixed martial artist. However, his cardio suffered, and his accuracy faded when the swelling continued to increase. And yet, he was still able to outpoint Thompson and win the decision.

Even though it was close, and he was in some bad spots, Melendez is still a top lightweight. Maybe he isn't the guy that will come to the UFC and start a reign at the top, but he showed us that he is still a top talent, and that he needs to come to the UFC.

Thomson proved more than anyone that he too belongs in the UFC. His last stint with the company ended when he was on the receiving end of a highlight KO by the former uncrowned king of the division, Yves Edwards. 

Honestly, this was a great fight, with two talented 155ers battling it out for the third and presumably final time. It is no reason to degrade either fighter. They showed heart, talent and versatility, proving that they are worthy of being present on the big stage with Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson.

Maybe they won't win the title, but they will both be competitive and exciting in MMA's most stacked division.