Anthony Pettis Submits Gilbert Melendez to Retain Title
Anthony Pettis did not get the first round stoppage that he predicted. He did, however, finish the bout within two minutes of round two.
Pettis returned to the Octagon from a 15-month layoff to record the first defense of his UFC lightweight title by choking out Gilbert Melendez in round two of the co-main event bout at UFC 181 held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A Relentless Melendez
Melendez, a former WEC and Strikeforce lightweight champion, had the perfect game plan against Pettis by using the blueprint set by Clay Guida back in 2011. Guida threw Pettis off his rhythm by smothering him en-route to a unanimous decision win against Pettis at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. Following that lead, Melendez was relentless from the get go as he tried to close the distance by repeatedly pinning Pettis to the fence and peppering him with punches.
Melendez also tried to take Pettis down several times, succeeding in just one brief instance where he wasn’t able to do any damage. On the other hand, Pettis was slick on his feet and consistently landed his strikes despite the all-out pressure from El Nino. He was quicker on the draw and landed with more damage.
It’s Showtime Once Again
Pettis lived up to his “Showtime” billing once again and picked up right where he left off. Although he missed on an exciting flying knee attempt in round one, Pettis scored on a crafty front kick that flushed Melendez’s face in round two. The end was just as spectacular.
As Melendez continued his body work, Pettis caught him clean coming in and dropped El Nino with a cracking left. As Melendez tried to scramble, Pettis saw a small window of opportunity when Melendez left his neck wide open. That inch of opportunity was a mile for Showtime who immediately went for a guillotine choke. The choke was quick and it was very tight. Melendez tried to roll out, but Pettis was locked in for the victory. Melendez tapped and suffered the first stoppage loss of his brilliant career.
It was a sorry loss for Melendez who out-struck Pettis 59-43 before the stoppage. Melendez also lost via split decision to then champion Benson Henderson during his promotional debut in April 2013. Six months later, he rebounded from that loss with a sensational three round Fight of The year candidate against Diego Sanchez.
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