Anthony Pettis had to adapt to an aggressive, pressure-heavy gameplan from Gilbert Melendez tonight in the co-main event of UFC 181 and he did just that, showing off his submission skills with a picture perfect guillotine choke finished off from mount in order to retain his lightweight title inside of two rounds.
The co-main event lightweight title fight is underway. Melendez takes the center of the Octagon and Pettis lands a leg kick.
Melendez moves in immediately on a takedown attempt, pushing Pettis up against the cage. Pettis resists being taken down for now but remains in the clinch. Pettis finds a little room and fires off a high kick, but Melendez is right back in on the takedown attempt and this time he manages to drag him down.
Not for long though as Pettis gets back up against the cage. Melendez still clinched up though and partially has Pettis’ back and a battle ensues for position with Melendez having one leg grapevined.
Pettis eventually manages to break free though midway through the round. Melendez pushing forward aggressively and uses a flurry of punches to set up another takedown and it works out for him. Pettis gets to his knees as he tries to stand. Melendez landing body and leg punches as he does so.
Pettis gets upright, find space to throw a head kick that’s blocked, then Melendez is into the clinch again.
They break part, but not for long – Melendez keeping very good pressure on the champion.
Again Pettis gets some room and another kick follows. Melendez landing a few strikes of his own though. Into the clinch again for Melendez as he embraces a grind-heavy approach and thus far it’s working.
Every time Pettis gets some space he utilizes kicks and again that’s the case in the closing seconds of the round and he lands a hard body kick that seems to back up Melendez for the first time.
Melendez immediately stalking Pettis again. He moves in with a flurry of strikes as he did in round one trying to provide the distraction for a takedown, but he gets caught with a punch.
He comes back for more, another flurry, but no takedown off of it. Pettis moves away and Melendez follows, but his corner warns him not to do so recklessly.
Melendez has a taste for this though and throws some bombs as Pettis is backed up against the cage. Pettis dangerous however and when he connects with a right hand Melendez is given pause for thought.
The action is fast and furious and in amongst it Pettis lands a front kick to the face, but it’s more of a glancing blow rather than a solid connection, so Melendez soldiers on through it.
Melendez moves down on his knees as he looks for a takedown attempt, but Pettis quickly siezes on a guillotine attempt and drops down with it. This looks tight and Pettis smoothly transitions to mount with it which causes Melendez to tap out almost immediately with 1.53 mins of the second round gone!
Very impressive stuff from Pettis in a fight where Melendez was clearly giving him some real problems, yet he stayed calm and pounced with excellent technique when an opportunity presented itself, again proving that there’s more to his game than just flashy strikes. The icing on the cake is that he’s the first person ever to tap out Melendez in MMA competition.