Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez: 3 Reasons to Be Excited for This Fight
When we get assignments like this here at Bleacher Report MMA, we often hope they're this easy. I probably don't need to explain to you why this bout between former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez and the original Ultimate Fighter, Diego Sanchez, is something to get psyched up for, but here we are.
There's a lot on the line for both fighters here, as Sanchez tries to climb his way back into title relevance while Gilbert Melendez tries to shake off his split-decision loss at the hands of Benson Henderson. Oh, and both fighters are just generally fun to watch, too.
So other than that, why should you get excited to watch this fight? Find out right here!
Diego Sanchez Is Still Pretty Darn Fun to Watch
Matt Ryerson-USA TODAY Sports
"Just win, baby." Nope.
"Just bleed!" Hell yes.
Winning isn't the currency in the UFC these days. Punches in the face are, and that's because, just like Bud Light and Corn Nuts, it's what you people want!
You may not say you like it, and you may think it's demeaning for the sport, but we all know that the staggering majority of fans would probably prefer to watch an actual gate keeper like Diego Sanchez fight rather than a plodding eternal contender like Yushin Okami. While that isn't necessarily right, it doesn't mean you can't sit back and enjoy Sanchez dragging a technically marvelous fighter into something found on World Star Hip Hop. When it comes to "The Dream" or "The Nightmare" or "The Overactive Imagination", he puts on the kind of fight you would actually choose to watch.
He's the Tim Tebow of MMA. Technically great? Not even close. That said, you're a lot more likely to jump out of your seat watching him than you are for Alex Smith.
The big difference, of course, is that Diego Sanchez is more likely to keep his job because of this.
Gilbert Melendez Might Be Fighting for a Belt Really Soon
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
So you're a diehard UFC fan. You didn't even know what Strikeforce was until it was a Zuffa subsidiary. You're still not really clear on who...that guy was. The one that fought at UFC on Fox 7? The one that fought...what's his name again? The one with the hair and toothpick thing?
Anyway, yeah, the UFC is probably fast-tracking Gilbert Melendez back to a title fight. That isn't a courtesy they're extending to Ben Henderson, the top company man in the UFC, but hey, if he was a real company man he would've done what Dana wanted and lost to Frankie Edgar. Am I right?!
The UFC is actively looking to expand into Mexico right now, and they are trying very, very hard to find a Mexican equivalent to Jose Aldo. The UFC is looking to have a card in Mexico in 2014 and I guarantee you, they would love to have a Mexican fighter, or a fighter of Mexican descent, fighting with a belt on the line other than Cain Velasquez (who is too popular to relegate to the sort of regional-level cards the UFC has been putting together outside the United States and Canada).
Mediocre bantamweight Erik Perez was supposed to be that guy, but those plans were derailed when he dropped a split decision to Takeya Mizugaki. On top of that, there hasn't been a peep from the 10 "developmental fighters" they signed earlier this year, and at this point they aren't going to be anything other than preliminary fighters.
Melendez is a great fighter, and the UFC can easily try and rebrand "El Nino" as, quoting the Chicago Sun-Times, the new "Great Brown Hope." If his former Strikeforce rival Josh Thomson ends up beating Anthony Pettis this December, a title shot would make sense for Melendez. The fact that it makes a perfect headline for the UFC's Mexico debut is just icing on the cake.
Right to Say "I Told You So!"
Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor
We all know now that the across-the-board dismissal of Strikeforce fighters was silly.
Pat Healy? Josh Thomson? Gegard Mousasi? Tyron Woodley? They're good at this whole fighting thing. Really good, actually.
The thing is, Gilbert Melendez hasn't been regarded as "really good" by anybody. Gilbert Melendez is regarded as one of the greatest, or middle-of-the-pack. There has been very little middle ground.
If you're one of the guys who hypes his manhandling of Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jorge Masvidal and Shinya Aoki, and remembers his reign as the world's greatest lightweight during BJ Penn's absence in 2005 and 2006, then you can totally call for apologies if he roughs up an enduring veteran like Diego Sanchez.
If you're one of the guys who brushes off his manhandling of Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jorge Masvidal and Shinya Aoki, and remembers that he hasn't been the world's greatest lightweight since BJ Penn's absence in 2005 and 2006, then you can totally call for apologies if he doesn't take a handy victory over a middle-of-the-pack relic like Diego Sanchez.
Either way, one group of extremists is going to be sending out passive-aggressive tweets tonight.