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One to Watch: Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez

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Photo by Christian Petersen/Zuffa LLC

Just two weeks removed from UFC 200 and the resulting fallout from both Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones’ positive drug tests for estrogen blockers, the twentieth iteration of UFC on Fox events takes place at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday night.

UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko, otherwise known as UFC on Fox 20, sees former women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm take on multiple-time Muay Thai world champion Valentina Shevchenko in its main offering.

The co-main event, which features Edson “Junior” Barboza facing off against former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez, is the perfect contest to whet your appetite ahead of a top-class headliner.

This fight signals the return of Northern California’s Melendez, who spent a year out of action following a failed drug test after dropping a gritty decision loss to now-UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez—a training partner of Barboza’s.

It’s not been the best of UFC runs for Melendez after making the switch from Strikeforce. He is 1-3 in the promotion, having lost two title fights against Benson Henderson and Anthony Pettis alongside that aforementioned loss to Alvarez. Though, you can’t argue against the calibre of his opponents thus far.

Continuing a theme of the two crossing paths, Brazilian striker Barboza handily defeated Pettis when he notched up the biggest win of his career back in April. Despite his undoubted skill, one criticism continually levelled at Barboza was that he was a flat track bully—underpinned by his inability to overcome the big-name obstacles put in front of him. The Pettis victory stomped all over that notion, and Saturday night’s fight against Melendez is another opportunity for Barboza to cement his place as one of the stacked lightweight division’s top dogs—the top dog being Alvarez.

Barboza’s upward trajectory could face an issue down the line should ….View full article