The UFC lightweight division is arguably the fiercest division in all of MMA. The depth of talent is simply astonishing and the competition is on another level. That fact will be made abundantly clear as former Strikeforce lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez, and former Bellator lightweight champion, Eddie Alvarez, battle it out in the co-main event at UFC 188.

As talented as both fighters are neither is even close to a title shot at this point in time. Both men will likely need at least three wins before they will even be in the mix and that’s just a testament to the overall talent in the division.
But even though an immediate title shot isn’t on the line this coming Saturday, this bout has significant title implications. With so much talent at the top fighters cannot afford to lose two in a row; regardless of what their pedigree is, Melendez and Alvarez both need a win here just to keep pace.

As far as matchups go, this could easily end up being a “Fight of the Night” candidate. Both of these men like to come forward and neither is afraid to get into a gritty throw down. In fact, both thrive in the madness of a brawl. But as wild a fighter as Melendez can be at times, his technical proficiency should make the difference in the final outcome.

Control the Cage

Alvarez is a tremendous boxer with solid footwork; he takes good angles and he knows when to press the action. Melendez can’t allow Alvarez to get comfortable in the Octagon. Once he settles in and finds his rhythm, Alvarez will become extremely dangerous. Melendez needs to push action and keep Alvarez off balance.

Varied Attacks

Both fighters prefer a good old fashioned brawl. And as good as Melendez is in that situation, he needs to stay focused on the task at hand. Melendez has more tools than Alvarez and he needs to use all of them. Melendez doesn’t need to rely on his wrestling or his grappling, but he does need to make Alvarez aware of it. Threatening with takedowns will keep Alvarez honest and will keep him guessing.

Stay Crisp

Melendez is a technically sound fighter, but when the fists start flying, he tends to get a little sloppy. Alvarez has the power to make Melendez pay for that sloppiness. Melendez needs to stay on point and smart with his attacks. Winging punches may be fun for the fans, but that style will leave Melendez open to Alvarez’s countering ability.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.