An exciting UFC 170 just lost some of its luster. Various media outlets are reporting that the rumored bout between Gilbert Melendez and Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially been scrapped. Fox Sports made the announcement today. No reason was given for the cancellation.
It is also being reported that the UFC is attempting to find a new opponent for Nurmagomedov. Had the fight occurred, it is certain the winner would have been much closer to a title shot against lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
Melendez went to war with Diego Sanchez in his last outing, beating “The Dream” by unanimous decision. “El Nino” lost in his Octagon debut for the lightweight title against Benson Henderson in a controversial split-decision. While in Strikeforce, Melendez seemed unstoppable. After losing to Josh Thomson in 2008, he won seven fights in a row and held on to the Strikeforce lightweight title until its eventual collapse.
Nurmagomedov is currently undefeated in his MMA career (21-0) and 5-0 in the UFC. In his last outing, he defeated Pat Healy by unanimous decision in a back-and-forth fight. He has also defeated Abel Trujillo, Thiago Tavares, Gleison Tibau and Kamal Shalorus in the organization.
The cancellation of the fight definitely hurts Nurmagomedov more than it does Melendez. He is still in search of the signature victory inside the UFC that will help him make a case for a title shot. He is currently ranked seventh in the UFC lightweight rankings and would need a major victory to slingshot him to the front of the line. A win over Melendez would have done that.
Despite the scrapping of Nurmagomedov-Melendez, the UFC 170 card still stands strong with Ronda Rousey defending her title against Sara McMann, Daniel Cormier fighting Rashad Evans and Demian Maia locking horns with Rory MacDonald.