Despite an initial flirtation with the idea of taking a different route, UFC President Dana White made it clear a few months back Gilbert Melendez would be sticking with Strikeforce for the immediate future. However, the lightweight champion remained hopeful White might bring the UFC to him if not the other way around, injecting Strikeforce’s solid but not spectacular 155-pound division with some top-level talent.
Names like B.J. Penn and Anthony Pettis were even mentioned as opponents Melendez would love to mix it up with. Instead he got Josh Thomson, a former rival he split a pair of previous bouts with that also happens to be 1-1 in his last two fights including a recent outpointing of K.J. Noons.
Melendez addressed the situation while serving as a guest on MMAJunkie Radio where the 30-year old’s less-than enthusiastic attitude was evident.
“I was hoping for something better, for some top talent, and it didn’t work out,” admitted the genuinely disappointed Melendez, adding he wanted, “Something to raise my stock.”
“You want to be the #1 guy, and right now, it seems like it’s put on hold for a minute,” he continued, trying to stay positive throughout the process.
“I’ve just got to have fun, do what I do, and stay focused on kicking butt.”
Just because he may not seem motivated to match up with Thomson doesn’t mean he won’t be ready, labeling his upcoming adversary as “tough”, but clearly Melendez is not necessarily satisfied with his career’s direction. “El Nino” holds an overall record of 20-2 with six straight wins including those over Thomson, Jorge Masvidal, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Shinya Aoki.
Thomson and Melendez face off on May 19 at Strikeforce: Grand Prix Final.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE