In the main event for tonight's (Sat., Dec. 17, 2011) Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Masvidal" main card in San Diego, California, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez looked to successfully defend his strap against the always dangerous Jorge Masvidal.
"El Nino" had not a lot to gain and much to lose as he sought to prove he truly belongs at the top of the 155-pound heap of fighters. He also hoped to prove himself worthy of a shot at a contract with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
"Gamebred" had no intention of just rolling over and letting Melendez have an easy night. Anyone who has seen Masvidal fight in his last two opportunities knows that he has been beating people up and doing it violently.
It was the biggest fight of Masvidal's career. He looked to be up the challenge.
At the end of the day, Melendez was too tough and showed himself to be a worthy champion, winning the fight via unanimous decision after five grueling rounds.
The fight started off with a patient pace, as each fighter looked to find the distance and figure out what the other sought to do.
After about a minute, the fists began to fly.
Midway through the round, Masvidal started to showboat and he paid for it. Melendez punished the challenger every time he dropped his hands with one-two punch combinations that knocked him backwards.
Masvidal landed a few good shots of his own, after he figured out that he was in a fight and that he needed to be a bit more cautious.
With one minute left, the champion caught a kick, rushed in and tied Masvidal up in a front headlock that did not threaten to finish the fight, but did seem to slow Masvidal down a good deal.
It was a close round, but Melendez appeared to do enough to outpoint Masvidal in the opening frame.
In the second round, Melendez began to pick his shots more cleanly and delivered a decent amount of punishment during the stand-up exchanges.
Though Melendez did get tagged a few times, the surly champion looked like a train, unwilling to alter its course.
He never stopped coming forward.
As the fight went on, it became more and more apparent that Masvidal was simply not in Melendez's class. Each punch received a counter-punch. Each combination was answered a combination that looked a little better and crisper.
Masvidal fought with bad intentions. Melendez's intentions were worse. Through three rounds, Melendez had the lead in power strikes, with a whopping 55-to-8 margin.
By the time the fight made it to deep waters of the championship rounds, Melendez's right eye appeared to be fairly swollen.
It's hard to say if the swelling was a problem for Melendez in the fifth round, but it did end up being the only round in which Masvidal appeared to have been more effective.
Though Masvidal earned a lot of respect with this performance, Melendez proved why he is a deserving champion.
The signs would seem to strongly suggest that Melendez's next fight will be in an eight-sided cage.
Remember to check out MMAmania.com's ongoing coverage of the Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Masvidal" main card by clicking here.