Gilbert Melendez Diego Sanchez UFC 166
Lightweights Gilbert Melendez, left, and Diego Sanchez put on a fight for the ages at UFC 166 on Saturday night. Reuters

After less than 12 hours since UFC 166, the one fight fans are talking about most isn’t Cain Velasquez defending his heavyweight title against Junior Dos Santos.

The "Fight Of The Night" honor belongs to the absolute lightweight slugfest that was Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez on Saturday night at the Toyota Center.

After three punishing rounds the scorecards were read and Melendez pulled out the unanimous decision, as the crowd in Houston cheered him on. Nicknamed “El Nino”, Melendez improved to 22-3 with scores of 29-28 and 30-27.

Sanchez slumped his shoulders with a nasty gash above his left eye that had to be checked routinely throughout the fight. The 31-year-old Sanchez also said he wanted a rematch and that the adoring crowd knew who the real winner of the fight was. Sanchez fell to 26-6, with losses in four of his last seven fights.

Announcer and post-fight interviewer Joe Rogan told Melendez it was the greatest fight he had ever seen, and then told Sanchez he was one of the most entertaining fighters he’s ever seen.

The No. 2 contender before the bout, Melendez said he was coming for the lightweight title, but didn’t specifically call out current champ American Anthony Pettis.

From the get go, Sanchez was relentless and charged at the more technical Melendez for several take downs, but was countered by well-timed hammer punches and a huge right knee.

In the second round, Melendez continued to sit back and rock Sanchez with counters. The cage side doctor first checked out Sanchez’s cut in the second, and the fight continued.

Blood caked both fighters by the third round, with the referee forcing another break for the doctor to check on Sanchez. One of his takedown attempts finally paid off in the last two minutes of the bout, as Sanchez tried to apply a chokehold but both fighters were too slippery from all the blood and sweat.

Sanchez vs Melendez full fight UFC 166by dm_5263aed35c0f1