Gilbert Melendez wants to get off the loser’s side so bad that he agreed to take a fight against just four days after his UFC 188 loss to Eddie Alvarez. And that’s not the end of it because the fight will be on July 15th.

In A Tough Stretch

After a dominant run at the Strikeforce promotion where he went 8-1 and won the Strikeforce lightweight title two times, Gilbert Melendez has had a tough stretch in the UFC where he’s been just 1-3. Two of those losses were for the UFC lightweight title though but two of those losses were also by narrow split decision, including the last one to Eddie Alvarez last June 13th at the co-main event of UFC 188. At age 33 and a new breed of fighters entering the lightweight title picture, it’s got to be now or never for Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez.

The New Breed

Talking about the new breed, “Raging” Al Iaquinta has been red hot lately winning his last four fights, including three by knockout. Iaquinta has gone 7-1 since 2013 with his only loss a technical submission defeat at the hands of Mitch Clarke at UFC 174. Ranked #13 by the UFC, Iaquinta is considered as one of the up and coming fighters at the 155 pound weight class. He was supposed to take on #11 ranked Bobby Green on July 15th, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 71 but Green pulled out due to an injury. Instead, he will get the opportunity to shoot up in the rankings by facing the #5 ranked Melendez at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.

Not a Walk in the Park

Iaquinta has lived up to his nickname “raging” lately as he knocked out Rodrigo Damm, Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon in succession. But with his last outing against Jorge Masvidal at UFC Fight Night 53 ended in a controversial split decision, Iaquinta hopes to erase all doubts with a big win over Gilbert Melendez.

That won’t be a walk in the park though as Melendez remains one of the best fighters in his weight class despite going 1-3 in his last four fights. Remember that two of those fights were title fights and all three defeats were against former lightweight champions of major promotions. Without doubt, Melendez will be the toughest opponent Iaqunita has ever faced and it’s interesting to see if he can step up to the plate.

Last Shot at Glory

While Iaquinta is facing a high risk opponent, Melendez may be at a crossroads. He’s seen it all inside the cage and he’s won it all except the UFC strap. A win will put him right back on the title hunt but a loss could shut the door on MMA’s ultimate prize. In short, this could be Melendez’s last shot at glory and he is expected to go all out on July 15.

Melendez-Iaquinta will be the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 71 which will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Frank Mir and Todd Duffee.

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