Someone apparently forgot to tell Dakota Zimmerman she was supposed to simply show up and collect a paycheck to be an opponent on Saturday night.
Keri Melendez was the clear A-side of their strawweight matchup at Bellator 206, but Zimmerman, in her professional MMA debut, gave Melendez all she could handle in a competitive strawweight main card fight.
In the end, though, Melendez had just enough guts and guile to eke out a narrow victory, taking a split decision at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Melendez got the better end of two out of three 29-28 cards to earn the decision.
Melendez, the wife of former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, who cornered her for the bout, appeared ready to ends things in a hurry early on, as she went straight up the middle to land with a wicked kick to the face. After they hit the mat, Melendez then picked Zimmerman up for a huge slam.
But Zimmerman found her way into a triangle, then added a nasty-looking armbar, and it was all Melendez could do to survive the round.
The second and third round repeated the patterns of the opening round, with Melendez easily getting the better of things in the standup, and Zimmerman eager to take things to the mat. But Melendez made the necessary adjustments to make sure she didn’t find herself again in a precarious position, and that was enough to get the nod.
Melendez improved to 3-0 as a pro. Zimmerman, a native of Wood River, Ill., is 0-1 as a pro and was 1-1 as an amateur.