Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight standouts Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez engaged each other in a mixed martial arts (MMA) battle for the ages last night (Sat., Oct. 19, 2013) at UFC 166, the "greatest night" of pay-per-view (PPV) fight from Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
Although expectations were high heading into this bout given both fighters' histories of being involved in barn burners, few could have expected just how transcendentally great its would actually turn out.
Over the course of three hard-fought rounds, Melendez and Sanchez put on an instant classic that will go down with Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar I from the first The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Finale and Mauricio Rua vs. Dan Henderson from UFC 139, among a handful of others, as one of the best fights in company history.
It was Melendez who got the better of the first two frames, using his more technical stand up to out-land the hard charging Sanchez. The former Strikeforce champion opened a nasty cut above Sanchez's eye (see pic here) that put his ability to continue in doubt for a moment. Luckily, TUF 1 winner was allowed to continue after having his wound examined by the cage-side doctor numerous times.
Then in the third, Sanchez was able to rally and turn the fight into the type of frenetic brawl for which he has become famous. And what a brawl it was. For the better part of five minutes Melendez and Sanchez traded career-shortening haymakers with kamikaze aplomb.
When the fight was over Melendez may have walked away with the unanimous decision victory, but it was Sanchez who won over the Houston crowd. The fans in attendance booed Melendez's name when he was announced the winner and cheered wildly for Sanchez during his post-fight interview.
"They know who the winner is," a fired up Sanchez said of the raucous audience just minutes after the fight. "That's the decision."
Unfortunately for Sanchez, an MMA fight isn't the same as a wet t-shirt contest. All the audience applause in the world won't change the fact that he now adds another loss to his record and moves to 3-3 over his past six fights.
"I think, honestly, the fight was a draw," a decidedly calmer Sanchez later told FOX Sports. "I landed a lucky shot in the third and he dropped. I thought that was enough to get a draw."
Despite his understandable bluster, Sanchez is cognizant of the fact he'll go down in the record books as the loser at UFC 166 and he wants a chance to even the score with Melendez.
"I want five rounds," Sanchez said. "I want the rematch."
Melendez, for his part, seems open to the idea.
"I think at some point for the fans we might need to [have a rematch]," Melendez told FOX Sports.
"There might be guys who are able to beat us on the scorecard," Melendez said. "But, ain't no one that has the balls and guts that we do."
Anyone who witnessed the ultra-violent masterpiece Sanchez and Melendez unleashed on Saturday night would be hard-pressed to disagree.