Melendez wins but fails to press UFC claims
Gilbert Melendez extended his winning run by defeating Josh Thomson on Saturday night, but did little to increase pressure on the UFC to bring him to its lightweight division.
Melendez is recognised by his Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu camp as the No. 1 lightweight in the world, having won his last seven fights. However, he needs to fight the UFC's top 155-pounders to prove it, and he failed to boost his case for the switch with a split decision win over Thomson.
In a fight that completed the trilogy between the two men, with Thomson winning the first bout and Melendez the second, the fans in attendance largely thought Thomson had edged the third as the scores read 48-47 47-48 48-47 in Melendez's favour.
One massive factor in Melendez's favour when it comes to a UFC move is the fact that he rarely takes part in a dull fight. This one against Thomson was a barnburner at times, but the Strikeforce champion has already previously conceded that he may have to compete three more times under the Strikeforce banner until he can change codes.
Thomson finished the stronger on Saturday, damaging the champion's face in the stand-up and threatening with a rear naked choke. However, Melendez had been the quicker man to establish range in the opening rounds and arguably deserved the tight call, although he was fortunate not to be deducted a point for several eye pokes.
"I had control and started cupcaking it out there," Melendez said. "It wasn't my best performance."