The UFC has announced fights for their April ‘UFC on FOX 7′ card. The card will be headlined by Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson‘s title defense against STRIKEFORCE import Gilbert Melendez. The match is excellent, and has wider repercussions, as the UFC now cannot make an immediate title shot part of their offer for free agent Eddie Alvarez. But like Alvarez, Melendez has a major resume, and is deserving of a title shot. The odds haven’t hit the books yet, but I look for Henderson to come in as the favorite. Let’s take a look at the match…
Right off the bat, Melendez has feasted on competition outside of the UFC for years, establishing himself as one of the top lightweights in the world. His record of 21-2 is stand out, he has avenged both the losses on his record with wins and he has not lost a fight in 5 years.
Melendez’ teammate Nate Diaz recently went the full five rounds against Henderson, and to his credit, he forced Henderson to put a lot of his arsenal on display for 25 minutes. With an intelligent veteran camp under coach Cesar Gracie, those 25 minutes in the ring with Henderson will be helpful in specific, targeted preparation. But will it be enough?
Henderson showed himself to be a very versatile fighter against Diaz. Diaz is a threat with submissions, and more of a threat than Melendez, and Henderson was never really threatened on the ground. With Melendez, who is a wrestler type that is not going to go to his back so easily, the match will likely resemble Henderson’s fights with Frankie Edgar. Melendez fate in that case is likely to be the same as Edgar.
Stature wise, Melendez may indeed be better suited for the 145 lb division now that he is in with the UFC’s athletes. Henderson is going to be longer and have a size advantage over Melendez. And as good as he is, Melendez is not as good or as unorthodox a boxer as Edgar is, and he is likely to struggle with Henderson on his feet.
Look for Hendo to come in at leas ta two to one favorite in the match up when the lines hit the books.