Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Strikeforce Lightweight Champ Gilbert Melendez wants a fighter outside of the organization in his next bout

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez wants his shot against the best the 155 lb. division has to offer, and though former Strikeforce CEO-turned-Executive-VP-and-General-Manager Scott Coker said last month that Melendez's next fight would come against someone on the Strikeforce roster, that's not what Melendez or his camp wants.

"I really do not believe that [there are any contenders left in Strikeforce]," said Melendez's trainer and manager Cesar Gracie in comments made to MMAWeekly.com. "And the reason I can say that is I'm looking at the talent pool they have in there, and I don't see who they're going to bring up."

"Guys that are winning are guys like [Shinya] Aoki and we've seen that fight. It was five rounds of Gilbert completely dominating the guy and beating him, and I don't think other guys can even get past Aoki. You've seen Gilbert dominate Josh Thomson, and Thomson just recently lost to [Tatsuya] Kawajiri, and then Kawajiri comes over and just gets crushed, no pun intended, by Gilbert Melendez. So for exciting match-ups, I think we're going to have to go outside of Strikeforce."

The lightweight division is coming together with no shortage of fighters who want to challenge for the UFC Lightweight Championship, but with Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard both sidelined with injuries, there's going to be opportunities for some fighters to rise above the pack. With Anthony Pettis and Jim Miller coming up as the top names inside of the UFC, Melendez wants to be able to throw his hat in that ring as well.

"I'm hoping that Dana [White] and these guys understand that [Melendez doesn't have any challengers in Strikeforce], and make the dream match-ups that the fans really and truly want. We need to see these guys fight Gilbert Melendez over there," Gracie said.

"Gil wants to test himself. He wants that belt; he wants the UFC belt also to add to his collection of belts, and yeah I hope they put those fights together."

Link to Original Source Article

Penick's Analysis: I agree that Melendez's next fight should be against someone on the UFC's roster. However, the problem he finds himself in with this shortage of challengers in Strikeforce is partly of his own doing. By re-signing with Strikeforce before the acquisition by Zuffa, he relegated himself to facing second-tier competition to what he could face in the UFC, or to facing fighters that he has already defeated soundly. He made that decision. Now, the UFC could provide him the opportunity to jump over and take a fight against someone the likes of Miller or Pettis or possibly even Maynard should Edgar find himself sidelined for longer than Maynard is, but these are options that only became options after the fact. So it's hard to take the complaints to heart when they made the decision to stay in Strikeforce when they did. I'm sure it made perfect sense from a financial and loyalty standpoint, but he can't then turn around and talk about how little competition he has there. His only option is to fight the best available to him. If that can come from the UFC, great, but if it can't then that's on him and his management for re-signing with the organization before Zuffa purchased them.

Source: http://www.mmatorch.com/artman2/publish/Affliction2/article_9329.shtml

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