What a war! Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez slugged it out for three full rounds to the delight of the Houston crowd tonight at UFC 166 in one of the most memorable fights you’ll ever see.
Sanchez rushes forward at the bell, but Melendez lands first with a quick leg kick.
Melendez tries a head kick, but Sanchez catches it and dumps him to the mat. Melendez getting back up, but Sanchez moves to his back and is looking for a potential choke.
Melendez manages to shake him off though and lands a hard punch to the body.
Both men looking willing to engage and are winging some hard shots at each other already.
Sanchez moves in to the clinch looking for a takedown, but Melendez escapes and lands a couple of nice punches on the way out.
Melendez rips to the body a couple of times effectively. Sanchez goes for a body kick and a side kick to the leg too.
Nice right hook lands for Melendez. Sanchez tries a kick to the body, but Melendez catches it and runs him across the cage.
Elbow lands for Melendez and Sanchez is now sporting a cut to his left eye. Spinning kick misses for Sanchez. Melendez lands a punch as Sanchez fails on a takedown attempt.
Another hard punch to the body from Melendez and a one-two soon after. Nice mid-kick from Sanchez in return though. Sanchez picks up the pace and starts to look more aggressive, but his next body kick is caught.
Final 10 seconds and they start trading blows toe-to-toe and it’s Melendez who connects harder, with one punch in particular buckling the legs of Sanchez. Great round, but Melendez definitely had the edge there.
Sanchez beckoning Melendez to come forward, which no doubt he will be happy to oblige. They trade blows in close again and Melendez lands nicely. This is shaping up to be something of a dogfight.
Another slugfest in close and both land. Melendez lands again.
Unfortunately there’s then a stoppage due to the cut to Sanchez’s left eye, but the doctor gives him the all-clar to continue.
Sanchez jumps in with a knee, but Melendez catches him with a punch on the way in. Melendez presses forward and lands to the head and then the body against the cage.
Melendez misses with a left, but lands with a right. Sanchez goes forward and punches aggressively. Sanchez slips on a kick, but rolls back to his feet and they are right back it.
Nice right hand from Melendez as Sanchez comes in. Sanchez scores with a body kick. Left-right combinations score for Melendez.
Sanchez lands a nice takedown, but Melendez gets right back up and scores with some strikes.
More slugs at close range and it’s Sanchez who gets the better of it this time around. They look to engage again, but this time it’s Melendez who connects cleaner and Sanchez stumbles forward briefly.
The round comes to a close with the fast and furious action showing no sign of slowing down.
Melendez feels out with the jab then tries to land to the body, but misses. Sanchez wings in an uppercut. Punches connect for Melendez as Sanchez knees to the body.
Crazy exchange as both men yet again just wing huge punches at each other. Sanchez is getting cracked by some huge blows, yet remains standing and continues to throw back. Instead of backing down he actually ushers Melendez forward and rushes to meet him in the center of the cage.
More frantic brawling, but despite Sanchez’s enthusiasm it’s Melendez who’s still landing hard with right hands in particular and there’s a brief stoppage as the referee wants again brings the doctor in to check on Sanches’s cut which has left his face soaked in blood.
They’re back at it and it’s continuing where they just left of. It’s almost cartoon-like as the fists fly between these two.
So far these brawls have favored Melendez, but Sanchez is being fired up by chants from the delighted crowd and suddenly he’s finding a home for some nasty shots.
A huge uppercut to the chin from Sanchez drops Melendez! Remarkable stuff and now he’s looking for the finish. The atmosphere is electric as Sanchez take his back and looks for a choke, but Melendez is still game and manages to get back to his feet.
The final 10 seconds approaches, and yes, you guessed it, they decide to mark the moment by throwing bombs at each other. Both are landing hard, but neither man’s chin is going to give out at this late stage and it’s going to be down to the judges to decide who wins arguably the best brawl we’ve ever seen in the Octagon.
Sanchez enjoyed a late resurgence in the fight, but it wasn’t enough as all three judges see it in former Strikeforce champ Melendez’s favor (29-2 x2, 30-27). Terrific performance from both men though and while there’s a few other strong candidates, that might just be the new favorite for ‘Fight of The Year’.