If mainstream fans weren’t completely sold on the hype behind Gilbert Melendez yet, even though he narrowly beat Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 7, they’re buzzing about the highly regarded lightweight now. Of course, not only did “El Nino” impress in his unanimous decision win over Diego Sanchez at UFC 166, but it was a thrilling fight that will be forever burned in the memories of fans (for those who were reasonably sober of course).
So, now it remains to be seen what the UFC has planned for Melendez, since with the win he remains in the division’s #2 slot. When you consider that some folks had Melendez defeating Henderson in April, and that the latter is no longer champion, “El Nino” is back in the title shot mix (as Dana White recently stated). While that may be good news for Melendez and his supporters, what does that mean for other contenders like TJ Grant? Who was set to fight for the title twice in 2013 but had to withdraw as a result of a serious concussion?
Well, according to White, it could mean the surging lightweight won’t return to a title shot in early 2014 (comments via MMA Junkie.com)
“T.J. Grant’s in one of those unfortunate situations where he had the title shot and he had to pull out twice,” White said. “He’s in limbo. He might come back and have to fight another fight. We’ve got to keep this thing rolling.”
Then, when the UFC boss was asked if what Melendez did at UFC 166 affected Grant’s options specifically, White reportedly stated
“Yeah. It’s a huge setback for T.J. Grant.”
The good news for Grant and his fans, however, is that worst case scenario he’s probably one win away from a title shot. If he doesn’t fight the winner of Anthony Pettis-Josh Thomson next, then it will be interesting to see who it will be. Could it be Rafael dos Anjos? Khabib Nurmagomedov? Henderson? Or perhaps Melendez?
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