Two former Lightweight contenders met in the Octagon when Gilbert Melendez (21-3, 0-1 UFC) faced Diego Sanchez (24-5, 13-5 UFC) at UFC 166. Melendez and Sanchez went all out in Joe Rogan's favorite fight of forever. Sanchez suffered a brutal and gory cut, but he never game up and almost finished in the final round. He couldn't quite make it happen, though, and Melendez was awarded the unanimous decision.
Sanchez attacked early and got Melendez down. He quickly looked for the rear naked choke as Melendez stood, but el Nino was able to escape. After the brief scare Melendez started to put the pressure on. He mixed in body and head shots, but Sanchez kept coming forward. Melendez punished the Dream for every failed takedown attempt. Diego came in for a low kick and ate a counter straight right, opening up a cut over his left eye. Gil keeps hitting that eye and the blood is flowing. Big flurries from both fighters. Most of Diego's missed while a pair of right hands from Gil rocked him.
Gil continued to target the cut over Diego's left eye, forcing the ref to have the ringside doctor take a look. The physician allowed the fight to continue, but that cut is very ugly. Diego wants to swing with Melendez, but he's well behind in every exchange. Diego came in for a lead hook that missed and ate another punch to the eye. Every combination from Melendez has at least one punch aimed at that eye and it shows. As always, Diego has more heart than talent. He's getting beaten to a pulp.
A minute into the final round and Diego goes crazy in a way that only he can. He swung for the fences and Melendez didn't back down for a second. Sanchez's tenacity is remarkable, but it's not doing him any favors. His striking accuracy killed him in the exchanges, and the entire right side of his face was covered in blood before the doctor was called again. Doc says "Let him go" and the fight is back on. Diego comes back out firing and dropped Melendez! He followed up with a rear naked choke attempt but Melendez escaped and went right back to face punching. In the closing seconds of the fight, both men plant their feet and swing for the fences.
Gilbert Melendez took the unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 30-27) over Diego Sanchez in a front runner for fight of the night.