Bound by no god, even Zeus himself, Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez produced instantaneous action.
Cast with iron fists and limitless barbarism, both lightweights flourished under the bright lights of UFC 166. They produced one of the most hellacious battles in UFC history, which consequently overshadowed a main event featuring a storied heavyweight title trilogy.
With bloody chins and gritted teeth, each warrior tested the physical boundaries set forth by universal law some four billion years ago.
In a year stockpiled with memorable wars and carnivorous crusades, does the lightweight showdown take the crown for Fight of the Year?
In this writer's eyes, abso-freaking-lutely.
Granted, their fight didn't produce the level of athleticism and precision that other epic 2013 duels like Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson and Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks did. However, when you're talking about harnessing pure heart and displaying undying determination, Melendez and Sanchez reign supreme.
For three straight rounds—15 minutes that will forever be cemented as a ferocious epoch of raw carnage—two lightweights left absolutely everything inside the Octagon. With skill sets turned over, training camps cast aside and game plans buried six feet under the canvas, "El Nino" and "The Dream" gave us a night of prolific perfection that our kids will be talking about when we're old fogies eating Jello at the YMCA.
People may argue that it was more of a beating at the hands of a more complete and patient striker, but when you re-watch a collapsed Melendez try to regain his consciousness in the third round, it's easy to see that Sanchez's wild and unpredictable flurries paid off.
It's a testament to crazy. Not the kind of unsteady mental corruption that often lands backyard wrestlers in the ER, but instead the kind of mindless menacing that keeps millions of onlooking fans screaming in waves of wonder.
So, you ask me if a five-round championship collision between two towering 205-pounders or a welterweight grudge match between two elite athletes stacks up to a measly lightweight meeting with no title implications whatsoever?
I say it's not even close. It's not even in the same category. That's like comparing an old Cadillac that has seen the traversed blacktops of America to a brand new Ferrari that you occasionally show off to the neighbors.
In a sport that is and always will be about the purity and peaceful sublimity of fighting, there's nothing better than a red-stained rodeo full of war-torn leather, cut eyebrows, busted bones and empty gas tanks.
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