Sometimes, three rounds and 15 minutes just cannot suffice.
In specific instances of fierce competition, the ebbs and the flows of three-round fights are pronounced. But in these 15-minute wars, business oftentimes gets left unfinished.
While Melendez and Sanchez undoubtedly captivated the masses and more than earned their "Fight of the Night" bonus checks, their show-stopping performance left fans yearning for two more rounds.
Nearly every fan at Houston's Toyota Center stood and watched anxiously from the moment Sanchez dropped Melendez until the end of the bout.
Afterward, with his face severely swollen, an optimistic Sanchez opened the door for a rematch, saying the following about the bout at the UFC 166 post-fight press conference:
I dropped him and I felt it was close to being a draw. I got some good takedowns [and] the fight was close. They gave him the unanimous decision, but I thought it was closer. I thought it could have been a draw and that's one of those fights where you need five rounds for true warriors to really dig deep and go to the finish.
The second-ranked Melendez obviously didn't agree with Sanchez's comments regarding the judges' decision. However, UFC president Dana White all but disagreed with the judges' scoring, saying at the press conference that he thought The Dream definitely took the third round.
In any case, Melendez, who easily squirmed free from a first-round, rear-naked choke attempt, more than doubled Sanchez in strikes landed in each of the first two rounds (30-13 in the first round and 27-8 in the second).
Melendez also stuffed five of six takedown attempts from Sanchez and denied each of the New Mexico native's two submission attempts.
Remarkably, 56 of El Nino's first 57 strikes were of the significant variety, and in the third round, when Sanchez appeared the strongest, Melendez outstruck The Dream 41-21, including 40-21 in the significant strikes category.
In a nutshell, Melendez played Sanchez's game in the third round and engaged in a slugfest with the notoriously durable Jackson's MMA brawler.
Although at times it appeared that Sanchez was turning the tide—especially when he dropped Melendez with an uppercut with 1:50 to go—El Nino maintained his composure and kept a torrid pace to win the majority of the standup exchanges.
The numbers never lie, and in Sanchez's case, a thrilling and gutsy performance only paid off in the form of a $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus check.
With Melendez winning for the eighth time in his last nine outings, and Sanchez falling for the fourth time in his last seven fights, the two warriors appear to be heading in different directions.
However, because the fight satisfied the company's brass, men like White, co-founder Lorenzo Fertitta and longtime color commentator Joe Rogan, the UFC could easily sell a five-round rematch between El Nino and The Dream in the near future.
Truth be told, fans would have eagerly paid an extra pay-per-view fee just to watch Melendez and Sanchez throw down for two more rounds Saturday night. Imagine how enthusiastic fans will get at the though of a rematch.
All stats gathered via Fightmetric.com.
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