UFC 166 – What To Do With Gilbert Melendez?

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UFC’s Gilbert Melendez made his case as #1 contender in the Lightweight division with a ‘Fight of the Night’ performance at UFC 166.

Last weekend’s UFC 166 card saw the ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus and award go to Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez for their three round war at Lightweight. The match left UFC President Dana White thinking that Gilbert Melendez deserved a title shot immediately after, however Sanchez and many others are already calling for a rematch. What does the UFC do with Melendez next, as he is coming off a big win but recently lost a title shot and was moved to the back of the line. He certainly hurdled a few contenders getting back on track, but Melendez could still be far from a title shot.

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Melendez really should be in the title mix again. The fact is, when he fought for the belt, the Champion was Benson Henderson, and now with Anthony Pettis atop the division, the matchup is completely different, and Pettis-Melendez is a formula for a great fight.

Anthony Pettis is booked to face Josh Thomson however, on December 14th. As impressive as Thomson is, Melendez owns 2 wins over him and has to feel like he is back in the mix.

The odd man out in all of this is probably TJ Grant. Grant has been booked for a title shot in the past, but injuries kept him from doing the fight. Grant fought his way to earn a title shot, but there now has been some time since his big win over Gray Maynard, and Grant is generally non-descript in terms of media and hype.  He will probably not be next up to fight for the belt.

Grant versus Melendez is a very real possibility, as a match where the winner is next up for the belt. After Pettis defends in December, he will likely be fighting again in the summer of 2014, and for both Melendez and Grant, that would be too long to wait. Therefore a match between the two makes sense for the February time frame.

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MMA matchmaker since 1997. No one besides Joe Silva has made more fights than me.
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