Another great match-up has been added to the UFC’s return to Houston, TX on October 19 for UFC 166.
Former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is set to take on Ultimate Fighter 1 winner and former challenger for the UFC Lightweight Championship, Diego “The Dream” Sanchez. Formerly reported for a UFC event in the fall, this sure-to-be-explosive bout now has a home in Houston.
Melendez (21-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) made his Octagon debut this past April when he challenged UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 7, coming up on the wrong side of a split-decision. Despite his inability to capture UFC gold, Melendez was thought to have given more trouble to “Smooth” than previous challengers and earned the respect of many who thought he may have fallen by the wayside in the 155-pound division upon his transition to the UFC.
Sanchez (24-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) also had his last fight go to a close split-decision, though the man formerly known as “Nightmare” came out on top when he bested Takanori Gomi in Saitama, Japan on March 3 at UFC On Fuel: Silva vs. Stann. The win over Gomi, which some thought to be controversial, came after Sanchez had spent over a year on the sidelines following his last fight, a unanimous decision loss to Jake Ellenberger on February 15, 2012 that earned “Fight of the Night” honors.
With the addition of this match-up, UFC 166 is now looking like one of the year’s most exciting cards. The rubber match between UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos is sure to produce fireworks, as should be the case with Hector Lombard’s welterweight debut against Nate Marquardt; like Melendez and Sanchez, both Marquardt and Lombard are coming off losses.
What are your thoughts on this fight, and the UFC 166 card overall, Penn Nation?