The UFC have moved quickly to find a new opponent for Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night 71 on July 15th after Bobby Green pulled out of the bout due to an injury.
Fresh off a split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez at UFC 188 this past weekend in Mexico, Gilbert Melendez has agreed to take the fight, giving him roughly a month to prepare.
Melendez had looked good in the first round of his fight with Alvarez and appeared to have him hurt, but he seemed to take his foot off the accelerator in the 10 minutes that followed, perhaps partially due to suffering from the effects of fighting at altitude, and so the fight slipped out of his grasp.
The 33 year-old former Strikeforce lightweight champion has now lost three of his last four fights, though it’s a sign of the respect he still holds in the UFC that he still holds down the No.5 spot in the divisional rankings after they were updated earlier this week.
This switch in opponent presents a big opportunity for Iaquinta as he now faces a bigger named, higher ranked opponent that could help propel him into the division’s top 10 if he emerges victorious.
Iaquinta is currently placed at No.13 in the 155lb rankings after racking up four wins in a row in the space of just seven months.
UFC Fight Night 71 is shaping up to be a solid show for the promotion with Melendez Vs Iaquinta joining a line-up that’s headlined by a heavyweight encounter between Frank Mir and Todd Duffee, while Josh Thomson Vs Tony Ferguson as currently pegged as the evening’s co-main event.