Eddie Alvarez got the better of Gilbert Melendez tonight at UFC 188 by split decision, managing to get the better of his rival in the final 10 minutes of fighting despite his left eye being almost completely swollen shut courtesy of an elbow in the opening round.

Round One:

Melendez throws the jab out as he circles around Alvarez. Alvarez burst forward with a combination targeting the body. Melendez continuing to feel out with the jab.

Melendez starts to find a home for that jab, landing a few in succession. Alvarez steps in with a punch, but Melendez blasts him with a right elbow counter. That backs him up a bit and Melendez presses forward with another punch. Alvarez has some damage to his left eye after that big punch.

Hard jab connects for Melendez. Alvarez with a leg kick. Another kick from him now. They exchange punches in close for a moment. Step in jab scores for Melendez. Body punch from Alvarez and a counter from Melendez just grazes over his head.

Big right for Melendez connects with Alvarez’s chin. Alvarez not as offensive as we’ve seen him in the past. A few punches miss the target. Melendez jab might be putting Alvarez off his game a little here.

A final jab backed up by a straight for Melendez to end the round.

Round Two:

Inbetween rounds Alvarez’s eye really swelled up from that big elbow earlier in the first, largely due to the fact that he tried to clear his nose which made things much, much worse.

Alvarez with a nice punch to show he’s still in this even if he’s only potentially seeing out of one eye. Pace a lot slower in this round. Alvarez with another nice punch and then drives into a takedown attempt, but it’s stuffed and he settles for the clinch against the cage. A low blow to the groin forces a brief stoopage for Melendez.

Back to it and Melendez is sticking to that jab that’s paid dividends so far for him tonight. Leg kick from alvarez. Takedown attempt from Melendez which doesn’t pay off, but he follows up immediately with a good knee to the body.

Melendez throwing some heavy leather. Alvarez looks for a single leg, but with nothing doing he’s into the clinch against the cage again. Alvarez working hard and gets a takedown. Not for long though as Melendez manages to stand back up. Alvarez still pressing him into the fence though. He lands a great spinning elbow as he backs away just before the buzzer sounds for the end of the round.

Round Three:

Alvarez in on a takedown straight away, but Melendez stuffs it. Melendez peppering his opponents head with short shots as Alvarez works hard to get him down. Alvarez does manage to put him down, but Melendez has his back to the cage and uses it to stand. After a good first round Melendez has to be careful he doesn’t let this fight slip through his fingers.

They break apart and Alvarez is trying for a takedown. Stuffed though and he eats a knee. Back to striking range. Alvarez missing with a few punches there. He might be having difficulty judging range with his eye swollen shut.

Leg kick from Alvarez and a jab from Melendez. Alvarez with a takedown, but Melendez up again. Still a lack of urgency from Melendez though which is surprising.

Two minutes to go with Alvarez still pressing Melendez against the cage. He tries to hoist him up for a takedown, but it doesn’t pay off. He persists though and does manage to get him to the deck, if only for a brief moment.

They separate and Melendez starts landing the jab. He lands a left hook. Noticeably breathing quite hard though. Head kick attempt from Alvarez. Spinning elbow from him and that may have been the strike that’s opened up a significant cut high on his opponents head.

Melendez is definitely tired here and Alvarez is remaining the more offensive as the fight comes to a close.

Round Three:

Close fight here and that’s reflected in the split decision ruling, but it’s Eddie Alvarez who gets the nod from two of the three judges (29-28 x2, 28-29) and probably deservedly so after rebounding from a tough first round to push the action in the 10 minutes that followed.