UFC 166: Why Gilbert Melendez Will Get the Next Lightweight Title Shot

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2013

Gilbert Melendez - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
Gilbert Melendez - Esther Lin/MMAFighting

Gilbert Melendez’s “Mexican World War” with Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 will be the reason TJ Grant misses out on yet another UFC title shot.

On Saturday night, Melendez and Sanchez went toe-to-toe in a 15-minute battle that some are already calling the “Fight of the Year.” During the live pay-per-view telecast, UFC commentator Joe Rogan called it the “fight of the century.”

MMA fans have a short-term memory span, and ultimately, it will prove beneficial in helping Melendez leapfrog Grant for a shot at lightweight champ Anthony Pettis. UFC President Dana White already planted the seeds during the UFC 166 post-fight media scrum, which was attended by MMA H.E.A.T.'s Karyn Bryant:

TJ Grant's in one of those unfortunate situations where he's had a title shot, and he had to pull out twice, so he might have to come back and fight another fight. We have to keep this thing rolling. [Melendez’s win is] a huge step back for TJ Grant.

There is certainly no questioning that Grant deserves the next title shot. Melendez’s win over Sanchez pales in comparison to Grant’s first-round knockout victory over perennial lightweight contender Gray Maynard.

It’s all about bad timing for Grant, who has pulled out of consecutive title bouts with an injury. Some still see Melendez as the uncrowned champion after his controversial split-decision loss to Benson Henderson back in April. Then, he topped that off at UFC 166 by competing in one of the best fights in UFC history.

It all puts a murky stain on Grant’s title hopes.  

In fairness, the UFC should offer Grant at least one more opportunity to lay claim to the title shot he earned months ago. Unfortunately, sometimes being fair doesn’t always equate to good business.

You can always count on White to make the tough decisions, and given the level of excitement generated by Melendez vs. Sanchez, this one is a no-brainer.