Gilbert Melendez opted to strike with Jorge Masvidal tonight and it paid off as he claimed a decisive decision win to retain his Strikeforce lightweight title.
Melendez opted to stand and trade with talented boxer Masvidal in the first round and did surprisingly well.
Masvidal was looking to adopt his usual counter-striking style, but Melendez quickly found his range and was catching him with more shots than ‘Game-bred’ may have been expecting.
It was the champion who again got the better of the action in the second round, snapping back the challengers head with punches on several occasions while also mixing things up nicely with occasional shots to the body, feints and a few kicks to the legs and body.
Meanwhile Masvidal appeared to be struggling to get into his groove and had few successes with his counters.
The third round was competitive, but Melendez was still the busier fighter and was beginning to throw heavier shots with more frequency now, all coming off an effective jab.
There’s occasional moments when Masvidal lands with a crisp strike or two, but he doesn’t seem to be able to step up a gear and really take it to the champion with the kind of regularity that may help steal him a round.
It’s more of the same in the fourth as Melendez continues to throw a far greater volume of strikes and shows no signs of tiring, while Masvidal is being too selective with his shots. What is getting through is of good quality as can be seen by the fact that Melendez face is the more damaged of the two, but it’s hard to see this swaying the judges if the fight goes the distance given the champions work-rate.
At first it looks as if the final round is just going to be a repeat of the previous four, but things do heat up considerably with a couple of minutes to go as Masvidal finally picks up the pace and starts engage fully, though Melendez is happy to oblige and they both trade big blows in fairly even fashion.
Interestingly Masvidal then swoops in for a takedown and momentarily manages to get Melendez down and attempt to take his back, but the champion is quickly back to his feet and this fight is heading to the scores.
No suprises from the judges here, all three see it clearly in Melendez favor (50-45 x2, 49-46).
Overall this was a very good performance from the champion, beating Masvidal at his own game in the striking department without ever needing to resort to his superior wrestling.