Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez Likely for UFC on Fox 7

January 14, 2013
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Benson Henderson 545 WEC 46It looks like a champion vs. champion fight may be headed to the next major UFC on Fox show with UFC champion Benson Henderson defending his title against Strikeforce lightweight king Gilbert Melendez.

The fight has been proposed for UFC on Fox 7 in San Jose, Calif., on April 20, although no bout agreements have been issued or signed for the fight.

Sources close to the contest confirmed to that verbal agreements are in place for the potential showdown with UFC officials currently working to finalize a deal. first reported the potential match-up on Monday.

UFC on Fox 7 is currently set to take place at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, an arena Strikeforce mainstay Gilbert Melendez is all too familiar with.

Melendez fought in and around San Jose for much of his career while competing with Strikeforce, but now that the promotion is no more, he will transfer to the UFC and it appears he will get a shot at the lightweight title on day one in the promotion.

2012 ended up being a banner year for UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who captured the belt to kick off the year and ended up defending it twice before signing a new eight-fight deal to start 2013.

Now Henderson looks to make a third consecutive title defense when facing Melendez in what should be the headline fight for UFC on Fox 7. will have more information on UFC on Fox 7 when it becomes available.

  • RonnieV

    Input anti-Melendez posts & how he doesn’t deserve this fight below? Excited for this fight, Cesar Gracie BJJ rules!

    • MMA

      He doesn’t deserve it but oh well he will get smashed big time… he has nothing for Benson.

      • RonnieV

        Who do you believe deserves the next shot at Bendo?

        • MMA

          Pettis if he wins, that rematch should definitely happen.

        • jeremy

          whats with the bendo crap, do you know how stupid that sounds? it doesnt work for him. Ben or Henderson.

        • NECROMAN


    • Joey

      Deserve it? No.

      The only way I would be truly upset with this fight is if Pettis wins. Pettis lost to “dance around and lay n pray” Clay Guida because he didnt want to sit out and wait for his title shot. Now if he wins this month, he will have to wait around for the shot he will deserve, AGAIN.

      Although I will be happy since Gilbert will get demolished and we can stop talking about him anywhere near the top 5 of the lightweight division.

      • champkc

        Gotta agree with you. Being a champ in another org can be overrated, and will be exploited by the ufc. Lets hope the run of bad luck for Pettis will go away.

  • Matty

    I think he deserves the fight but he will not win. Not even a top 5 l.w.

  • I never had a problem with Gilbert but I didn’t like when he said Benson had to go through him to be considered #1 when he was the former WEC Champion and is undefeated since coming to the UFC against some real tough guys like cardio freak Clay Guida and Jim Miller who is just a beast.

    • RonnieV

      When you are at that level, you have to have confidence you can beat anyone. Lightweight division is very talented, and after Bendo beat my boy Nate pretty good, it’s really tough to sort out who deserves the next shot. IMO Melendez is next, then Pettis if he can get past Cerrone (which he should). Gray Maynard is the wild card.

      • Gary Fredericks

        I think Melendez should get the immediate shot for two reasons:

        1) He’s the champion of the former largest regional promotion in the USA outside of the UFC and stayed the course while the division stagnated.

        2) A fight with Henderson will quickly and effectively answer everyone’s speculation as to wether Melendez is top 5 caliber.

        I would watch that fight on Fox any day!

        • Joey

          1) He didnt stay the course. When he had the option to sign a contract with the UFC before they bought Strikeforce, he chose to stick with them and fight lesser competition instead of fighting the best LWs in the world and prove he was a top 5 talent.

          2) You could accomplish this by giving him a top 5 fighter and expose how he doesn’t belong in that conversation. Don’t need to give him an immediate title shot. Make him fight Gray Maynard and we would find out where he stands pretty quick.

          • Mark McDowall

            Melendez has fought 1 top 10 ranked(at the time of the fight) opponent in his career. He has won 5 of his last 8 fights by decision. Having him fight Henderson is like having the AA baseball champs play the Giants. There are some good fighters coming out of StrikeForce, but lets be real the majority of them are AA baseball players going straight to the big leagues with big hopes and dreams…soon to be squashed.

            I think he should have at least 1 fight in the UFC against a ranked opponent, and win decisively before given a title shot.

          • Samuel

            There was no ‘choice’ There wasnt a contract on the table for UFC. He was still locked into a contract with Strikeforce.

        • Mark McDowall

          “He stayed the course while the division stagnated” really isn’t a great argument. He decided to stay in a stagnated division…sounds like he stayed around for some easy fights.

          Now I give him credit for being loyal and staying on a sinking ship…but thats not going to get you anywhere in the rankings.

          • Ron Couden

            I guess you guys, don’t know much about contracts. He signed a 7 fight contract with Strikeforce in 2008. When UFC bought Strikeforce, Showtime negotiated with the UFC to keep Melendez in the promotion, and gave him a hefty contract in 2011. Melendez has made a lot of money, and can afford to be a full-time fighter, and run his own gym in SF. That financial stability is not very common amongst UFC fighters. Melendez is top notch, I do not believe he will beat Bendo, but he is definitely top 5.

          • Mark McDowall

            You are correct about the contract thing, I forgot about that.

            But again…who has he fought to be considered top 5? He has been fighting nobodies the whole time he has been in stikeforce. He has won alot of fights…but if your fighting weak opponents then what does a good win loss record really mean. I really think a record is only as strong as the list of opponents.

        • kbroesq

          Honestly, your number (2) will be one of the ‘silver linings’ of this fight for me. I can deal with it for that reason. The champion v. champion thing is a decent point as well. I think the ‘kick heard ’round the world’ aspect of the Pettis fight could be sold even better. Of course, you can always sell that, as long has Henderson remains champ.

    • he lost to edgar. He’s not undefeated

      • Mark McDowall

        ???????????? I suppose you consider Sonnen the “true” MW champion as well….

  • zztoppppp

    Sorry, but watching Melendez pound on guys who probably wouldn’t last 3-4 fights in the UFC doesn’t prove anything. He may end up being one of the best lightweights in the world, but until he gets in the ring and beats people like Henderson, Edgar, and Maynard he doesn’t even qualify for top 5 in my opinion.

    • RonnieV

      Name 5 better? Every MMA website/expert says you are wrong with that assessment. Maynard may be the only person who could have a gripe. Pettis already has a fight scheduled with Cerrone. Edgar had his chance, and is no longer a lightweight. Melendez is the only fight that makes sense. I do not think he will win, but he deserves the fight.

      • Joey

        If my last win was a debatable decision against Josh “I already have a win against Gilbert” Thompson, I would think I would need a couple fights with some fighters in the top 25 in the world before I jump to fight the champ.

        Bendo just fought so I am sure he could wait two weeks for Pettis to win. I would rather watch Melendez get shown how overrated he is by someone like Jim Miller or Diego Sanchez after he blitzes through Gomi. Shouldn’t have to make a fighter that’s actually deserving wait because some guy that fought nobodies in Strikeforce for a few years and padded his record.

        • Ron Couden

          Pettis & Melendez have one common opponent….. Clay Guida! Guess who won & guess who lost? People that think he doesn’t deserve the title shot are idiots!

      • Mark McDowall

        Why not make him fight Maynard? Winner gets a title shot.

      • b-soc

        I can’t agree, not specifically on Melendez, but to any fighter coming right in and getting a title shot. The UFC is a bigger stage and just about everyone who comes in gets the jitters. Couple that with a fight against Ben Henderson in itself would make for an ass kicking. Give him Maynard and I think that will end Gil’s UFC title aspirations.

      • kbroesq

        He doesn’t have to name 5 better. He only has to name one better, and that’s easy. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I cannot understand the support Melendez has as a top 5 lightweight. He just almost lost to a guy who isn’t in the top ten, and he had a lot of trouble before that with a guy who isn’t in the top 20. I’m not trying to bad mouth those fighters. I really like Masvidal and Thompson. Hell, I’m not even saying Melendez isn’t that good. He just shouldn’t be RATED that high when he’s not fighting the best lightweights in the world. Do you honestly see Melendez beating Henderson with the performances both fighters have had lately against their respective competition. Pettis makes way more sense. He has a fight scheduled? Since when has that stopped someone from taking a title fight? Put Melendez against Cerrone first. That’s a good, solid test for him. Then give him a title shot if he wins.

      • sam sosa

        Lol “Experts”???kid, are you serious??
        Zztopppp is the ” expert” here and makes valid points.
        What top 5 fighters has Gil beaten?? I like Gil but facts are facts. Gil is the product of mma websites and so called experts trying to hype fighters in smaller promotions as top fighters yo try and manufacture and promote other mma organization s to compete with the Ufc. While Gil is top ten and a great fighter, he hasn’t fought the caliber opponents to claim he’s top five yet. Ever notice how these so calked experts always hype fighters outside the ufc and claim them as top two guys until they actually land in the ufc? Magically these same experts rank them down the list further then ever before .

        • Mark McDowall

          Sam Sosa you are a wise man. I said from the beginning when Zuffa bought StrikeForce that they should have used it as a farm system for the UFC, like it is in baseball. Make the fighters better, then after a time bring them up to the UFC.

          Take all the StrikeForce champs, put them against current UFC champs and it will be a clean sweep for the UFC. They are not the same caliber of fighter as the UFC.

  • lavekyl

    Ben Henderson will do to Melendez, what he has done to Jim Miller and Nate Diaz. Melendez has fought some talented guys, but not as talented as Bendo has fought. Bendo will take this man down and elbow and punch his face repeatedly until the final bell. Melendez’s best chance is for the fight to stay on the feet, but I just don’t see it staying there for too long. Bendo is good at explosive striking bursts that eventually result in his opponent being on his back. Melendez has had trouble with that kind of style before (see his Josh Thomson fights). While I respect Gil’s talents and do believe he will have some good wins in the UFC’s 155 lb division, he won’t win against Bendo.

    • GoNoles

      completely different fighters so you cant sit here and say ooo this guys gonna do this.

      • gone squatchin

        Why not????? That’s what the forums for.
        Great points lavekyl. I like Gil but just don’t see him getting the better of Hendo.

  • John Bunch

    Anytime you have a chance to bill a fight as champion vs champion, or weight class unifcation or w/e you want to call it…you do it, every single time. Strikeforce is a known commodity…Gilbert is a known commodity…tbh, only an idiot promoter would pass this opportunity up. I see some people saying Gil isn’t even top 5…I’m no rankings expert, but I will defer to Bas Ruten on this one. He’s consistently had Gil in his top spot/top 2 for a LONG time, so that’s good enough for me. I like both of these guys….should be an amazing fight. barring anything unforseen. And CombatScienceMMA, they way I interpreted Gilbert’s statement was, “He’s the UFC champ, I’m the Strikeforce champ. If he beats me, no one can doubt he is the world’s #1 Lightweight.” I didn’t read it as an insult, I read it more a statement of fact, and also some self-promotion to help make the fight happen.

    • Ron Couden

      I completely agree with this post. The experts all have Gilbert Top 5, the keyboard warriors have him as an overrated bum. His training partner Nate Diaz calls him the best lightweight in the world, and Nate has fought all the top lightweights (including his recent beatdown by Bendo).

      • George Sperry

        Yeah I remember when the Diaz’s said that Jake Shields was gonna tear GSP up. They really are on top of intellectual issues.

        • gone squatchin

          Yeah, exactly lol. Who in their right mind goes around quoting Nate and Nick Diaz as for what fighters are the best??!! Of course its anyone they train with and themselves.
          While Nick and Nate are warriors, they hardly should be quoted on who the best fighters are today. Just a little biased. Lol
          That’s like asking Nate who is better than his brother , then quoting Nate as if his opinion should be trusted by all.

          • Ron Couden

            I would quote them, and quote MMA experts, before I quoted a keyboard warrior like yourself. One thing I love about these message boards, is that you all think you can run a business better than the UFC. You are against Sonnen fighting Silva & Jones, you are against Diaz fighting GSP, and you are against Melendez fighting Bendo. The UFC knows a helluva lot more than anybody on this string, and they know what fights make money. Deserve has nothing to do with it, and if anybody deserves the fight it’s the lightweight with the best winning streak (Melendez). Pettis lost his last fight to someone that Melendez has beaten. I don’t think Melendez can beat Bendo, but right now I don’t think any lightweight can. Keep hating folks. I’m sorry I side with the experts (which none of you are).

      • Cptmats

        That what Diaz’s do. They Talk !
        Melendez is overrated. Because hes been in the number one or two spot for along time when he’s more like five or six. I don’t see Melenez giving bendo any problems.

  • Tyme_5

    Makes sense to me. Why risk him getting beat by a guy like Maynard or Miller and losing out on the unification bout all together? Go with the $$$ on this one.

    • John Bunch

      And we get a helluva fight in the process! You never know what can happen in a fight…but it seems ignorant to me to predict Benson is going to roll Gil like some “B” level wannabe fighter. One fight ago we’re arguing over the legitimacy of Benson’s title…and now after a dominant performance against Nate, there’s no way Gil can even hang. Anything can happen in this sport, and there is NO WAY to predict how a fighter will respond once he gets into the UFC. I thought Cro Cop was going to walk over the UFC HW’s…and I thought AS was going to get manhandled by Rich. Before Nick Diaz fought Gomi, I had Gomi taking that fight easily. Shogun was going to bury Griffin, too.

  • bajafox

    Free title fight? I’m in.

  • Henry

    Awesome!…Champ vs Champ on free tv. oh ya!

  • candelario

    i like ben…. hope he will fight for a ko or tko. Not just trying to out point the opponent. like so many recent lightweights frankie, maynard

  • brian stevens

    I just don’t understand why SF fighters are considered “wanna be’s”. Did we not learn our lesson from the WEC. Just because you don’t fight in the UFC doesn’t mean you aren’t the best. People talked so much crap about Pettis and Bendo and they are contender and champ. Melendez is a tough fight for Bendo. Melendez has awesome wrestling and great boxing. His skill set is very similar to Maynard. By the way Josh Thompson and Jorge Masvidal will also make their mark on the UFC.

  • MuayThaiFood

    The Spider had a fight before getting a title shot. It didn’t seem to hurt him. If Gil is the real deal then why get so up in arms about giving him at least one fight against another contender?

    • brian stevens

      Anderson had lost two of his last six fights and wasn’t a champion when he came to the ufc. Not at all the same situation.

      • MuayThaiFood

        Well, no two situations are the same but I believe he was ,in fact, still the Cage Rage champion at the time. Yushin Okami may have been a loss on his record but you can’t really take much away from him on that one.

  • jeremy

    Gil does not deserve it. he has snot fought anyone in strikeforce that was worth a ****. this is a joke that he gets a title fight right away

    • champkc

      Well, the champ vs champ moniker carries a lot of weight, and will be promoted likewise, irrespective of whether its deserved or not. He should a least prove himself with a couple of fights and get used to the level of competition in the ufc. He hasn’t been fighting a high level of competition This fight has been rushed in my opinion and should have been marinated………..

  • champkc

    Melendez hasn’t been terribly active, and hasn’t been facing tough competition or setting the world on fire (lack of motivation in Strikeforce/lack of top ranked fighters). Big ask to come into the big stage and fight for the title right off the bat (but he can make Henderson work and make for a good fight). May have been better to have a tune up or two and get rid of the octagon jitters and ring rust (1 bout in the past year), and go from there. UFC just wants to promote a champ vs champ bout ($$$$$$) and is marketable.

    Henderson has been more active, fought better competition, using his skills to nullifty, stifle, befuddle and neutralise his opponents and cruise to 6 straight decisions (with him losing his fights with Edgar in my opinion). Look for him to do the same and win comfortably by points, using his legs to avoid Gilberts charges whilst countering him, and taking him down in between and controlling him to a unanimous decision win and 7 points victory in a row in the ufc.

    Henderson needs a run of good and exciting performances to lift his stock. Lets hope that Pettis is next, but unfortunately his had a bad run of luck.