With Strikeforce’s fighters free to explore options in the wake of the company’s demise it didn’t take long for lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez to ink a deal with the UFC, setting him up to make a long-overdue run inside the Octagon. UFC President Dana White has stated Melendez will received an immediate crack at UFC title-holder Benson Henderson’s belt, and, according to his camp, that’s fine by “Bendo”.
Manager Malki Kawa recently confirmed the champ’s interest in facing Melendez, pointing to the pairing not only being logical but one assisting his client’s chances of being confirmed as the clear-cut #1 lightweight in MMA.
“We really like the Gilbert Melendez fight, and I’ll tell you why: Gilbert Melendez has been ranked either No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 between himself, Frankie Edgar and Benson. Frankie was considered No. 1 in the world, and Benson beat him. Now some people are saying Gilbert might be No. 1 in the world. OK, well Benson would like to beat him, too, and leave no doubt that he is the best 155-pounder in the world,” explained Kawa to MMAJunkie. “Depending on whose poll you look at over the past few years, it’s been those guys in the top three spots, and Benson definitely wants to fight the best guys in the world. He’s already defeated Frankie. Beating Gilbert would prove that Benson is absolutely the best lightweight in MMA.”
No specific date was mentioned in terms of the potential match-up. Though the tilt is likely to take place in the next few months, one bout that won’t be materializing anytime soon, however, involves action against Eddie Alvarez.
“For a guy who’s not even the champion in another organization, it just wouldn’t seem right for him to get a title shot against Benson. Anyway, he’s tied up right now with those contract discussions, so it’s not really something worth discussing,” stated Kawa. “We’re really interested in fighting Gilbert Melendez, and we’ve got a lot of confidence that the UFC will make that fight happen.”
Melendez holds an overall record of 21-2 and is on a seven-fight winning streak. Comparably, Henderson is 18-2 with six straight victories to his credit.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/STRIKEFORCE