Alvarez The co-main event of UFC 188 is a three-round lightweight bout between Gilbert Melendez and Eddie Alvarez. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Melendez is a -175 favorite (bet $175 to win $100) while Alvarez is a +155 underdog (bet $100 to win $155). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Melendez at -165 and Alvarez at +125, and some action has come in on Melendez so far. This is a close fight that I predict could end in in a controversial split decision, but I will slightly lean towards the underdog Alvarez to get the win. Here’s why. Melendez (22-4) is the former Strikeforce lightweight champion. The 33-year-old American is 1-2 in the UFC with a decision win over Diego Sanchez in the 2013 Fight of the Year and losses to Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson. Prior to the UFC, Melendez had racked up seven-straight wins over the likes of Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal and Tatsuya Kawajiri and many were rating him as the best 155lber in the world. Clearly he isn’t the best guy anymore, but at one point of time he may have been. He’s still a solid fighter though. He has very good boxing, his wrestling is top notch, and he has underrated submissions. He also has fantastic cardio and can go 25 minutes against anyone. However, his last few fights have been concerning. He got tagged quite a bit against Sanchez and even got dropped at one point in that fight, and he just got finished for the first time in his career by Pettis. At 33, he isn’t improving anymore, so to see him lose by sub to Pettis was concerning. Having said that, he’s still an unbelievable talent and one of the best 155lbers on the planet, and that’s why you see him getting a lot of respect from bettors here against Alvarez despite his recent struggles. Alvarez (25-4) is the former Bellator lightweight champion. The 31-year-old American is 0-1 so far in the UFC with a decision loss to Donald Cerrone. Prior to the UFC, Alvarez had racked up three-straight wins over Michael Chandler, Patricky Pitbull and Shinya Aoki. Alvarez trains with the Blackzilians and not surprisingly is known for his exceptional striking ability. He is one of the best pure boxers in the division and has fast, accurate hands with power. He also has power in his shins. He comes from a wrestling background and for the most part is able to keep his fights on the feet. With 21 finishes in 25 career wins, it’s clear Alvarez is a dangerous finisher anywhere the fight goes. He also has the cardio to go a full 25 minutes with anyone in the division. But while Alvarez is a tremendous offensive talent, he is poor defensively. He get tagged in almost all of his fights, even in his wins, and against Cerrone was absolutely torched with leg kicks en route to a decision loss. Against a solid striker like Melendez that will be an issue, which is why Alvarez is the dog here, but at the same time his offensive skills give him a chance to beat most lightweights, making him an intriguing upset pick. This is a tough fight to call, as both men are very evenly matched here. Both guys have good wrestling, both have great striking, and both have the cardio to go the full three rounds. I see the wrestling canceling each other out with this fight primarily taking place on the feet, and while I do think Melendez is a fantastic boxer, I think Alvarez is a bit more diverse, and I think he can hold his own. Both guys get tagged a lot in their fights, but Melendez has become noticeably more hittable in his last few appearances, particularly in the Sanchez fight. Melendez is a slight favorite here, but I think Alvarez can outbox him a bit and steal a decision. But with that being said, this is a very tough fight to bet on. The judges may very well give the decision to the wrong guy and I don’t want to be there sweating my ticket. If anything, OVER 2.5 round is worth a look at, but I’m passing on this fight and looking for other fights on the card to bet on instead.