After dropping a highly controversial split decision loss to reigning UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson, Gilbert Melendez (pictured) admitted he was “heartbroken.” What the 31-year-old must now live with is that he has nobody to blame but himself for the most devastating defeat of his life.
Melendez convincingly won the opening round and arguably took the second stanza on Saturday, but for some precarious reason, the 11-year veteran chose to cruise in the middle frames. It was a decision that not only cost him UFC gold, but millions of dollars in future earnings.
“I thought I won the first two and fifth [rounds], for sure,” Melendez stated at the post-fight press conference. “I took my foot off the gas a little bit after the second. The third was close, but I felt I came strong. I thought it was going to come down to the last round, and I thought I won the last round.
“I gotta watch it [again]. Ben’s a stud. What can I say?”
There’s really nothing more to say. However, Melendez summed it up nicely in his next statement, manning up for his mistake while pondering what could have – and perhaps, should have – been.
“That’s my own fault,” Melendez candidly revealed. “I took my foot off the gas [after the second]. He adjusted pretty well, as well.”
Immediately after the unfavorable verdict was rendered, Melendez’s supporters were calling for an instant sequel. After running his body ragged preparing for 10 consecutive five-round title fights, he wouldn’t necessarily complain if he was given a breather with a three-round battle.
“This is like my thirteenth five, five-minute round fight I’ve been training for,” an exhausted Melendez said in closing. “If I do three, five-minutes [next], that would be okay. If I got a rematch, that would be great, too.
“It’s up to the boss right here (pointing to UFC president Dana White beside him). I’m just happy to be working for these guys. This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole career.”
Time to take a “vacation,” Gilbert. White has promised the winner of next month’s UFC 160 scrap between Gray Maynard and T.J. Grant will get next dibs at Henderson’s throne.