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Sunday, Apr 21, 2013

Full Contact Fighter’s “The Daily Takedown:” El Nino Fizzles, Josh Thomson Deserves Next Title Shot

Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez

By Joshua Molina

Forget a Gilbert Melendez vs. Benson Henderson rematch.  Give Josh Thomson the next title shot against Henderson.

Thomson will fight the whole five rounds, whether he thinks he’s ahead or not.

Melendez, the guy named “El Nino” because of his hurricane, storm-like fighting style, fought a safe tactical fight, but forgot that he wasn’t defending his Strikeforce title. He was trying to win the UFC title.

As we all know in combat sports, you have to beat the champ to win the title. In a close fight, you simply aren’t going to get the decision.

Even though many cageside observers believe Melendez won the fight 3-2, it’s his own fault for fighting safe. Hunger is an amazing thing and makes the difference in close fights.

Having a guy like Jake Shields in your corner probably isn’t the best strategy. Melendez needed an Angelo Dundee-type backing him up. Shields, whose idea of fighting with a sense of urgency is to lay and pray for four minutes a round, instead of five.

The problem with a Melendez rematch is that Henderson is only going to fight better and Melendez would be hard-pressed to repeat his tactical performance to the point where he would be close enough to win.

In big fight situations you only get one chance to win or go home. Ask Thomson, who decided he was going to win.

And by the way, Melendez has no room to complain about bad decisions. Many believe he didn’t beat Thomson last May. The fight was close and Melendez squeaked out the victory.

Melendez was probably only awarded the close rounds because he was champion. That’s the way it goes.

Too many fighters in these big main events are choosing to fight safe, not realizing why they are there in the first place. They are fighters. It helps to be a great athlete. It is essential to be well-conditioned. It helps to have career longevity. But at the end of the day, you have to fight to win.

Especially in the lightweight division, there are too many great fighters willing to step up. It’s guaranteed that had Melendez decided to go crazy with his punches and kicks in the last round, that he wound have either won the decision, knocked Henderson out, or got knocked out himself.

Either way, Melendez would have dared to live out his dream inside the cage, and would have been remembered for that effort.

It doesn’t matter if you lose when you go out swinging.

El Nino ended up fizzling out with a whimper.

posted by JoshuaM @ 7:20 pm
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