Three days later and people are still talking about what they witnessed last Saturday night (Oct. 19, 2013) at UFC 166 when Diego Sanchez and Gilbert Melendez decided to go toe-to-toe and exchange punches in the center of the Octagon in Houston, Texas (highlights here).
The two scrappy lightweights left it all in the cage, going blow-for-blow for 15 minutes up until the final bell. The instant classic proved that, not only can you count on a "Fight of the Night" performance from Sanchez night after night, but that Melendez isn't one to back down for an all-out brawl, either.
That's something "El Nino" anticipated going into his fight against "The Dream," which is why he trained staying in the pocket during camp as he recently told Bleacher Report. Giving credit where credit is due, Gilbert expected Diego to go into full zombie mode in the third and final round and keep moving forward despite taking punishment.
Nevertheless, Melendez stuck to his guns, never wavered and accepted the challenge that comes with fighting Diego, even if it did get him dropped.
"I told everyone coming in I was going to experiment in this fight, take risks, try to finish and refuse to back down. It did get me dropped in there, though. That guy was rolling the dice and finally caught something. But I overcame adversity and bounced back up. I'm never going to run, man. I'm not going out like that. I'm always going to step up and fight."
With the win, Melendez holds his spot at No. 2 in the official UFC rankings and keeps his title hopes within reach. In fact, the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter says his victory in "H-Town" should be more than enough to earn him next crack at the division strap.
"At this moment right now, I want to campaign for that title shot. I think I've earned it. I'm the uncrowned champ of the lightweight division. I believe I have what it takes to beat Pettis and I've proven I can beat Josh Thomson. I think me stepping in with whichever one of them walks out of their fight with the title would be good business for the UFC. I think people want to see it and I want that next shot."
For Gilbert, it doesn't matter who he faces, he's confident he has the tools to beat both men and wants the chance to prove it sooner, rather than later.
And after coming up short against Ben Henderson on the judges' scorecards at UFC on FOX 7 in his first-ever- UFC title fight, "El Nino" desperately wants to remove the "uncrowned champ" title by winning the actual belt.
But was his victory over Sanchez enough to give him the edge over Henderson and T.J. Grant in the title race? Or would a fight pitting Melendez against either of those two men in a No. 1 contender's fight make more sense?
Oh, and let's not forget about this guy.