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Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez draws Jorge Masvidal for next title defense

While there was little doubt Strikeforce lightweight Jorge Masvidal was on the cusp of contendership after picking apart K.J. Noons in June at “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum”, it appears the American Top Team product has indeed been named as the next opponent for champ Gilbert Melendez though no date has been set for their match-up.

News of the title-fight first surfaced today in an interview with Melendez’s coach, Cesar Gracie, while speaking with MMAFighting.

Masvidal’s victory over Noons was his second in a row since joining Strikeforce on a regular basis and his third overall in the promotion. The 26-year old Miami native holds a record of 22-6 including success against a number of notable opponents such as Satoru Kitoaka, Billy Evangelista, Yves Edwards, and Joe Lauzon.

The 19-2 Melendez has had his hands raised in five straight fights and owns wins under the Strikeforce banner over Clay Guida, Josh Thomson, Shinya Aoki, and most recently against Tatsuya Kawajiri this past April. His dominant performance against Kawajiri resulted in a TKO midway through the opening round of action, the eleventh strike-based stoppage of his career.

The only major Strikeforce event currently planned for the fall takes place on September 10 in Cincinnati, Ohio but is unlikely to host Melendez vs. Masvidal as the card already features the semifinal round from the World Grand Prix in addition to Mo Lawal vs. Roger Gracie and 185-pound champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defending his belt against Luke Rockhold.