UFC on Fox 7 Results: Was Strikeforce Champion Gilbert Melendez Ever That Good?

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UFC on Fox 7 Results: Was Strikeforce Champion Gilbert Melendez Ever That Good?
Benson Henderson has proven for now that Gilbert Melendez isn't the top dog at 155 pounds. (Photo Credit: UFC)

Once again, Benson Henderson has managed to retain his coveted UFC Lightweight Championship in extremely controversial fashion.

Poor Gilbert Melendez.

Despite saying for years and years that he was the absolute best 155-pound fighter in mixed martial arts, "El Nino" just came up short when it most counted, dropping a razor-thin split decision to Henderson in a very heated five-round brawl at UFC on Fox 7.

Naturally, it begs one simple question—was Melendez overrated all along?

Of course not. Are you joking? No way.

At least, not as long as you take Melendez's own "No. 1" claims out of the argument.

While the San Francisco-based member of the Scrap Pack was really never the pound-for-pound best lightweight MMA fighter in the world, he's been one of the top talents for years.

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Besides, just looking back at his title fight with Henderson says it all.

Melendez came closer to defeating the champion than anyone else in the UFC, winning a handful of exchanges on the feet and skillfully staving off Bendo's grappling game.

Unfortunately, El Nino fell prey to one-too-many leg kicks, but that's nothing to be ashamed about.

Moreover, calling Melendez overrated greatly takes away from Henderson's own status as the best lightweight in the sport, and possibly the greatest 155-pounder in MMA history, given some more time with the belt.

Bendo may have given up more than he should against Frankie Edgar and Melendez in his last two fights, but no amount of booing changes the fact that he's still beaten extremely worthy competition in his undefeated UFC career so far.

Against the likes of Edgar, Nate Diaz and Melendez, that's a feat.

And while Strikeforce's former lightweight champion is definitely a great fighter, Saturday night merely proves that he was simply never the best.

Granted, a 21-2 record against guys like Josh Thomson, Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri is nothing to sneeze at.

It's not top-level competition, but success like that isn't an accident.

Nonetheless, Melendez wasn't the greatest when B.J. Penn was the UFC champion, he wasn't the best when Edgar took the division's throne and he's certainly not No. 1 now.

But with a fight as close as that, Melendez is more than good enough to earn himself another title shot before the year is out, provided that he can thrive in the deep waters of the UFC lightweight division after swimming in Strikeforce's shallow shores.

 


McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist. His work has appeared in NVision, PC World, Macworld, GamePro, 1UP, MMA Mania and the L.A. Times.

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