All eyes will be focused on the heavyweight title tilt between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum but there are other matches that are worthy of our consideration as we target our UFC picks on June 13th.
Gilbert Melendez (22-4, 11 KO’s, 1 Sub) vs. Eddie Alvarez (25-4, 14 KO’s, 7 Subs)
This is one fight I have been dying to watch for many moons. Gilbert Melendez made his mark in the Strikeforce organization claiming their lightweight crown while Eddie Alvarez was devastating the opposition and defending the Bellator lightweight title. But since both entered the major leagues of MMA their results have been a mixed bag, albeit based upon a very small sample. Melendez walked with a unanimous decision over Diego Sanchez but then found himself outclassed by the former UFC Lightweight champ Anthony Pettis where he was submitted for only the first time in his career in the second round of their title clash.
Alvarez stepped inside the UFC Octagon for the time in September of last year and was summarily dispatched via unanimous decision by Donald Cerrone. It was a game effort against a fighter who continues to get better with age. Alvarez will test his knockout power against another heavy hitter in Gilbert Melendez in what should be a thoroughly entertaining match.
If you look inside the numbers you will find these two fighters are remarkably similar when the fight is standing up. Melendez averages 3.68 strikes landed per minute while Alvarez clocks in at 3.74. Melendez lands his strikes 34.32 percent of the time while Alvarez finds his target at a 40 percent rate. Defensively Melendez gets the nod defending 65.88 percent of the strikes launched against him while Alvarez absorbs a bit more punishment as he is able to stop 56.76 of the bombs being dropped against him.
However, the submission and ground game has to go to Alvarez. He has seven submissions to his credit while Melendez has only one. Alvarez averages 3.57 takedowns while Melendez takes his opponents to the mat only 1.95 times per fight. Alvarez also stymies takedowns at an impressive 90.96 percent clip while Melendez’s take down defense success is a more pedestrian 72.36 percent.
UFC Pick – Both of these guys are not only tough customers but in an elite class of lightweight fighters. Melendez has never been KO’ed while Alvarez has been rendered unconscious only once. The advantage in my estimation lies with Eddie Alvarez. The Silent Assassin is two years younger and has a more well-rounded ground game than the former Strikeforce champion. And one telling sign was the way Melendez responded in his post-fight remarks after being submitted by Anthony Pettis. He parenthetically noted the speed, agility and strength of his younger opponent and made a quick reference to his getting older. It was a candid yet telling remark and one that leads me to believe his best days are now behind him. Peruse the UFC odds on this one and bet Alvarez in your UFC picks at WagerWeb.
Kelvin Gastelum (10-1, 3 KO’s, 4 Subs) vs. Nate Marquardt (33-14, 9 KO’s, 16 Subs)
This is a battle of the young upstart with enormous potential versus a wily veteran with miles and miles on the tread. Kelvin Gastelum lost his first professional fight in his last outing against Tyron Woodley by split decision in a match where he failed to make weight and fought this one at a 180 pound catchweight. He will be stepping up to middleweight for this clash at UFC 188.
Nate Marquardt’s last foray inside the Octagon went against him as he lost a unanimous decision to Brad Tavares at UFC 182. Marquardt has now lost four of his last five and this could be his swan song in the UFC if he fails to come out on the winning end of this one.
UFC Pick – Gastelum lands more than Marquardt but Nate the Great has greater accuracy. When it comes to mat time the veteran Marquardt has a wider range of options at his disposal and certainly has experience on his side. As much as I like Gastelum I think he is in no man’s land as he is too stocky to maintain his welterweight status yet his 5’9” frame will be a disadvantage at 185. This one is tricky as Marquardt appears to be in the twilight of his career while Gastelum is just getting started. Five years ago I would give the nod to Marquardt but in 2015, at UFC 188, this one belongs to Gastelum. Bet Kelvin Gastelum at GTBets.