Saturday night’s (Sunday morning in the land of didgeridoos) matchup between Champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and Challenger Gilbert “Niño” Melendez promises to be pure fucking excitement from start to finish. Using Sun Tzu’s masterpiece, “The Art of War,” to break down the fight, we can lay down our life savings on a sure winner.
1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the moral law? (Who is harder to finish?)
- Neither guy has ever been finished in their professional MMA career. Not for lack of opportunity though, as both fighters have had to fight out of gnarly situations before. Melendez survived a shoryuken uppercut when he fought Diego Sanchez, and Pettis escaped a fully sunk Rear-Naked-Choke in his first fight with Benson Henderson. DRAW
2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (Who has the better camp?)
· For all the controversy surrounding Duke Roufus and the tragic death of his student Dennis Munson Jr, the fact remains that the guy knows how to build great fighters. His coaching practices may be up to debate, and time will tell how much Munson’s training regimen contributed, if at all, to his untimely passing. However, what is known is that under the tutelage of Roufus, Pettis became one of the most dynamic and exciting fighters to ever compete in Mixed Martial Arts. On the other hand, Gilbert fights out of the famous Gracie Fighter network that produced such beasts as Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, and David Terrell, all of whom competed for a UFC title at some point in their careers. Both guys come from proven camps with proven instruction, but the relationship between Roufus and Pettis is special. Advantage: PETTIS
3) With whom lie the advantages derived from heaven and earth? (What advantages surround the fight?)
- This will be the 17th title fight in Gil’s career. He has a wealth of experience competing at the highest levels all around the world. He was a Shooto Champ, WEC Champ, Strikeforce Champ, and competed in Pride FC during the promotion’s prime. As a 12 year veteran of the sport, Melendez has seen everything the fight game has to offer. In addition Vegas is also closer to San Francisco (his adopted home) and Santa Ana (his hometown) than Milwaukee (Pettis’ hometown). Finally, Pettis’ long layoff since winning the title also works against him. Advantage: MELENDEZ
4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (Who's in better shape?)
- At 155lbs if you gas out you don’t fight for titles. Both guys have had drawn out 5 round wars. DRAW
5) Which army is stronger? (Who's stronger?)
- Neither guy is a real “horsepower” kind of fighter. Both utilize technique, timing, and speed to win their fights. It’s hard to say who’s physically stronger. DRAW
6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (Who's more well rounded?)
- At 155lbs if you’re not well rounded you don’t fight for titles, but these two are well rounded in different ways. Arguably the best striker in MMA, the champ excels at knocking people unconscious, but has some slick submissions that need to be respected. His wrestling is also on point and was even able to take down Ben Henderson in their first fight. Gilbert Melendez on the other hand has fantastic boxing and top level wrestling. He out-struck Jorge Masvidal in their Strikeforce title fight, and dominated Shinya Aoki on the ground with his defensive grappling. That being said, Pettis is more offensive from every position and that counts for a lot. Advantage: PETTIS
7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment? (Who can finish the fight?)
- Pettis has a finishing rate of 82% split evenly between submissions (7) and knockouts (7). In comparison, Meledez, an aggressive fighter himself, has a finishing rate of 55%. Though Melendez’s finishing rate may pale in comparison to Pettis, it should be noted that he’s been fighting top level guys for a lot longer. However, despite being a talented grappler, Meledez only recorded one submission as an MMA fighter. Although known for his cool samurai kicks, Pettis will actively hunt for a finish wherever the fight goes. His flashy strikes on the feet are fun to look at, but his proficient use of jiu jitsu should also be appreciated. Watch Ben Henderson’s first fight with “Cowboy” Cerrone, and watch him escape every submission attempt thrown at him. Then watch Pettis catch him in a simple armbar from the guard, a move white belts learn their first day but only black belts master. Advantage: PETTIS
HOW MELENDEZ WINS: After an exciting back-and-forward battle the fight goes to the judges’ decision. Consistent pressure, strong right hands in transition, and relentless takedowns will guide Melendez to a hard earned Unanimous Decision.
HOW PETTIS WINS: After a grueling 2 rounds Pettis begins to find his range and starts keeping Melendez at bay. He drops Melendez in a wild exchange, and catches the challenger with a guillotine late in the 3rd.
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