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UFC 166 fight card primer: Diego Sanchez vs Gilbert Melendez

Bloody Elbow presents their UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos fight card primer, previewing all the action at this week's UFC 166 PPV. Here, we look at Diego Sanchez vs. Gilbert Melendez.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos features great Lightweight action as Diego Sanchez (24-5 MMA; 13-5 UFC) faces Gilbert Melendez (21-3 MMA; 0-1 UFC). This is the 3rd fight on the PPV broadcast. The official UFC rankings have Melendez as the #2 contender at Lightweight, while Sanchez is unranked. UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos airs live from Houston, Texas this Saturday, October 19 with the PPV main card starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.

This lightweight battle here seems like a perfect piece of matchmaking. While Melendez is the easy favorite, Sanchez is an incredibly durable and scrappy fighter. Both of these men like to push the pace and grind their opponents down. The end result is a definite candidate for Fight of the Night.

How do these two stack up?

Sanchez: 31 years old | 5'10" | 72" reach
Melendez: 31 years old | 5'9" | 71" reach

What have these two done recently?

Sanchez: W - Takanori Gomi (SD) | L - Jake Ellenberger (UD) | W - Martin Kampmann (UD)
Melendez: L - Ben Henderson (SD) | W - Josh Thomson (SD) | W - Jorge Masvidal (UD)

How did these two get here?

It's hard to believe Diego Sanchez is only 31 years old. One of the winners of the very first season of TUF, Sanchez has been fighting in the UFC for over eight turbulent years. After a great undefeated run to start his career, Sanchez hit a rough patch in 2007. A drop to lightweight temporarily revitalized his career, but recent years have been rough. He's gone back up to Welterweight, not looked great, dropped back to Lightweight and failed to make weight. Through it all, he has continued to put on great fights, but it's hard to know just how much The Dream has left.

More Bloody Elbow coverage of UFC 166

"El Nino" Gilbert Melendez was, for years, one of the most accomplished fighters outside of the UFC. The former Strikeforce champion has fought a who's who of lightweight talent from around the world, and his UFC debut earlier this year was much anticipated. That debut ended up being a close split decision loss to Ben Henderson. But, considering the hype behind Melendez before that fight, the close fight he gave Bendo, and the change in belts to Pettis, another title shot may be not far away for this Cesar Gracie trainee.

Why should you care?

Say what you will about Sanchez's issues with consistency and questionable wins, the guy is still a blast to watch. This is a great match-up that should just be a whole lot of fun.

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