Gilbert Melendez will return to the cage after his disappointing split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez. He now fills in on a late replacement fight.
Gilbert Melendez was once considered one of the best Lightweight fighters if not the best Lightweight fighter in the world. That was before he entered the UFC and fought for the belt against then champion Benson Henderson and lost by split decision. He picked up a win besting Diego Sanchez in a dogfight and contract negotiations and a near signing with Bellator lined him up for a season of TUF and a shot at the title that was held by Anthony Pettis. He was downed in two rounds. The fight against Alvarez was going to rocket him back to the top of the division but a poor showing put him on his first ever two fight losing streak.
He wanted to return to the Octagon quick it looks like as he will now face off with Al Iaquinta after his original opponent of Bobby Green was injured and pulled from the fight. Gilbert Melendez is looking to rebuild his career and prove that he is not over the hill. With three losses in his last four fights it is hard to imagine him fighting for the title anytime soon. While he is still ranked at five in the 155 division it is hard to imagine that he should truly be there with much more deserving fighters that should be in the spot. That is why taking on the rising number 13 fighter in Iaquinta makes sense.
Gilbert Melendez faces Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night 71.
Al Iaquinta is at 7-1 since losing his season of TUF and has won four straight. three of those last four wins have come by TKO as well. He has also beaten some top 15 talent in taking out Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon and Jorge Masvidal. With the Serra-Longo camp behind him, he has some excellent wrestling, striking, and ever evolving ground game that is quickly making him a top flight talent in the UFC. it is not unimaginable that he is now facing off with Gilbert Melendez and if he can beat him, or finish him, then he could be within a fight of the title. This fight takes place in less than a month at UFC Fight Night 71 in San Diego, California and is headline by a Heavyweight fight between Frank Mir and Todd Duffee. This will very likely be the co-main event to this card.