UFC 181: Pettis vs. MelendezSaturday, Dec. 6 – 11:30 p.m. ET
Las Vegas, NV
Anthony Pettis (17-2) vs. Gilbert Melendez (22-3)Lightweight title bout
Line: Pettis -270, Melendez +212
Another belts is on the line Saturday night, as Anthony Pettis defends his lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez at UFC 181 in Las Vegas.
Pettis is back, as the lightweight champion has been out since August 31, 2013 due to a PCL injury. In that last fight, he defeated Benson Henderson for the second time in his career. Pettis is one of the most exciting athletes in the sport, and with the time off, has been able to fine tune some of his weaknesses, which should make him even more dangerous. In the match against Henderson, he won by way of an arm-bar, something he had never done in his UFC career. This will only be his second match since January 26, 2013, when he knocked out Donald Cerrone. In 2011, he fought four times, but now that he has fought only twice, he is going to be completely fresh entering this fight. His opponent, Gilbert Melendez, is not a pushover either, and he is back on the winning track after defeating Diego Sanchez in his last match. The 32-year old from California is in great shape, and his cardio could play a big factor in this match. He has not fought since 2013, so it will be interesting to see if he is in top shape entering this fight. The past four matches that Melendez has been in have all gone the distance, but he has not faced anybody with the ability to end the match as quickly as Pettis can. Melendez is a very good fighter who has a great opportunity to win the belt, but he is going up against one of the elite fighters in the business. In the end, a fresh PETTIS will win in dominating fashion.
"Showtime" Pettis enters this fight with 17 wins in his career, with 10 of those victories coming by way of knockout. He also has four wins by submission, with the other three coming by way of decision. The 27-year-old from Wisconsin lands only 2.02 significant strikes per minute, compared to 3.68 for Melendez. Pettis is much more accurate when throwing those punches (44% for Pettis and 34% for Melendez), but it is his ability to use his feet that makes him so dangerous. In the victory against Cerrone, he won with a vicious kick to the body, one fight after delivering a head kick that helped knock out Joe Lauzon. What makes Pettis so loved by UFC fans is his ability to win a match in any given way, and he will look to be back in top form on Saturday night. It won’t be easy though, as Melendez is more than capable of ending a fight in spectacular fashion.
"El Nino" Melendez enters this match with 22 victories in his career, with 11 of them coming by way of knockout. He also has 10 wins by decision and one by submission. While Melendez averages more takedowns (1.94) compared to Pettis (1.44), he is not nearly as accurate when attempting his takedowns (77% for Pettis, 48% for Melendez). When he takes his opponent to the mat, he is looking to wear them out for the later rounds. With six of his past seven matches going the distance, Melendez is experienced fighting in the championship rounds. If he is able to withstand what figures to be an early flurry from Pettis, then Melendez could do enough to get the victory.