Why now is the time for Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez to face off


Five years ago, Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez were two of the best lightweights in the world not signed by the UFC. With both now in the Octagon, and coming off of recent losses, it's time for the UFC to capitalize and put these two in a cage.

On the most recent edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, "El Nino" called out his long time rival saying that he "respects" Alvarez and that "there would be no better place to do it than Mexico City." Later that day, the Blackzilians fighter caught wind of his adversaries comments and had this response.

UFC 188, which takes place south of the border, is headlined by a heavyweight title unification fight that pits interim champ Fabricio Werdum against Cain Velasquez. With one of the promotion's most popular Latin champions in the main event, a bout between two former Hispanic champions would be the perfect compliment.

With Alvarez's lack of interest in waiting, and El Nino's eagerness, the UFC needs to do something.

Since turning down Bellator, Melendez has fought just once and was submitted by lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis at UFC 181 in December. He also coached opposite Pettis on the The Ultimate Fighter Season 20 that preceded his showdown with "Showtime".

The former Bellator lightweight champion Alvarez lost a competitive fight in his Octagon debut against Donald Cerrone in September.

Both men are ranked within the Top 10 of the UFC's lightweight division, Melendez perched at No. 4 and Alvarez at No. 10. Each fighter is looking to climb the ladder after suffering setbacks in their quest for gold.

While ruling the lightweight division of Strikeforce, Melendez defended his title five times, two of them coming against American Kickboxing Academy's Josh Thomson.

El Nino has a fast-paced fighting style, with excellent boxing. He's rarely ever in a boring fight.

Melendez's scrap with fellow Mexican Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in October 2013 won Fight of the Year in multiple publications.

The 31-year-old Alvarez is also no stranger to exciting bloodbaths. His back-and-forth wars with Michael Chandler, the first being award FOTY, were like something out of the "Rocky" movies.

Alvarez piled up nine wins under the Bellator banner, including seven finishes. Meanwhile, El Nino sports 12 career finishes to his credit, including four knockouts in the defunct Strikeforce promotion.

There's no telling what a bout between Alvarez and Melendez might produce. Both are tough as nails and comfortable ending the fight with their hands or a choke.

Though, while their penchant for the captivating is admirable, it has left them on the short end of the stick of multiple title fights. But that could also be a bi-product of competition.

Whatever the case may be, neither man can run anymore, especially if they want to solidify their top-10 ranks in the crowded 155-pound division. Not to mention earning a little bit of bragging rights.

A Melendez/Alvarez fight would be a welcomed addition to the Mexico City card, considering UFC 180 (also in Mexico City) had an attendance of 21,000. And that was without Velasquez.

Of course, this is all hearsay until UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and president Dana White have a discussion with both men. A Melendez and Alvarez lightweight tussle would also make for a great UFC Fight Night main event.

However, that last instance isn't likely due to stipulations in the former 155-pound title challenger's new contract.

Ask and you shall receive, Gilbert.

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