When fans learned that former Gilbert Melendez would be facing Diego “The Dream” Sanchez at UFC 166, there were some people who were surprised at the choice of Sanchez being named Melendez’s opponent.
Melendez had come out of a war with Benson Henderson for the UFC Lightweight title, so it would seem fair to give him a top 10 opponent.
Although facing Sanchez may not benefit the former Strikeforce Lightweight champion at first glance, The Dream has not only qualified to face Melendez, but also their fight could steal the show as “The Ultimate Fighter” winner is regarded as one of the most exciting UFC fighters of all time.
Sanchez is coming off a split-decision victory over Pride Lightweight champion Takanori Gomi back in March. The bout was originally supposed to be at lightweight until Sanchez failed to make weight. Prior to the Gomi fight, he had returned to welterweight and went 2-2. Three of the four fights had earned him “Fight of the Night” honors.
Melendez is also known for his breathtaking matches, particularly his trilogy with rival Josh Thomson and most recently his match with Henderson.
As for the match itself, Melendez has the better striking while Sanchez may have a slight advantage when it comes to the grappling. Still, Melendez has yet to be finished in his career and while Sanchez, who has not finished an opponent since 2008 loves to in and brawl, he also has a tendency to go the distance with his adversaries. The longer this fight goes, the more it favors Melendez.
A win over Melendez may not guarantee Sanchez another shot at the UFC Lightweight title, but it will be a step in the right direction.
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