Gilbert Melendez: To Be Undoubtedly No. 1 Benson Henderson Still Has to Go Through Him

December 20, 2012
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Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal at StrikeforceStrikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez wanted to be a part of the promotion’s final show, but his injured shoulder had other ideas.

Melendez suffered the injury prior to his last scheduled fight against Pat Healy in September. Despite his best attempts at getting back in fight shape, the healing process just didn’t go as planned to allow him to fight in January.

“I was looking forward to doing the fight and I wanted to do it, I just wanted to test my shoulder to be 100-percent to compete. I said I really want to do this fight, let me just make sure my shoulder is good. We were all positive thinking my shoulder would hold up, and I want to fight, but my shoulder didn’t hold up. It did re-injure  and I did pick it up a little too early,” Melendez told MMAWeekly Radio recently.

“I’m sorry about that to Pat (Healy), but it is what it is.”

For now, Melendez is focused on getting healthy so he can book his next fight, which may very well be in the UFC, as Strikeforce is expected to close up shop following its January event. As far as his contract is concerned, Melendez doesn’t have much more information than the rest of us when it comes to Strikeforce’s ultimate fate and the fighters moving over to compete in the Octagon.

Of course Melendez is ready for that challenge whenever it happens, and he’s eyeing the top spot on day one.

“Your eyes are always on the guy with the UFC strap. Your eyes were on Frankie Edgar for a long time, and B.J. (Penn) for a long time, and everyone needs to adapt for the champ, to figure out how to beat them. I think about it all the time with Benson (Henderson),” said Melendez.

Henderson recently defeated Melendez’s teammate Nate Diaz to defend his UFC lightweight title. As much as he could with an injured shoulder, Melendez was there every day to help his teammate get ready, and it helped him start to break down how he would fight the UFC champion when his turn comes.

Melendez knows that he is the other obstacle standing in Henderson’s way from defining himself as the No. 1 lightweight in the world, so why not put that fight together and answer all the questions?

“If he wants to be undoubtedly No. 1, I think that would be a good victory for him to prove it or for me to prove otherwise. Another fight if I was in the UFC would be fine with me as well, but I’m ready now,” said Melendez.

“The fire was lit a couple of weeks ago. Since the buzz has been out, the fire has been lit. I definitely feel that.”

For now Melendez is focused on getting healthy. He heads back to the doctor next week and hopes to get final clearance to return to fight training.

Then it’s all about getting in shape and getting ready for the next challenge ahead. Melendez certainly hopes that challenge is named Benson Henderson.

“I hope everyone would get as excited as I would be about that,” Melendez stated. “In a perfect world. I’d love that fight with Benson, I really would.”

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  • b-soc

    No Gilbert, to prove you are a contender, you have to beat someone in the top 10 in the UFC (and I don’t count Clay Guida years ago). No disrespect intended, I like Gilbert, and I’ve said for years he should have been in the UFC, but until he actually steps in the Octagon and beats on of these guys, I won’t be sold on him.

    • T…

      I’m sold. Gilbert is the best lightweight of all time. And will sure as hell beat Henderson.

      • Anthony Lopez

        As much as I respect your opinion, this is from a fanboys perspective. Gilbert has not even come close to legitimizing himself as the best lightweight of all time. I’d say he’s barely even scraping the top 5

        • hamm

          Pettis will dust him maynard will Joe lauzon prolly even will beat em. He barely beat Thompson n Thompson tough n might’ve even won that last fight. Guillard will prolly knock em out lol. Yeah I’d say he’s barely scraping top 5 also barbosa will light em up for sure. Gil nice but yes overrated

        • Stanislav Alyas

          Dud he’s barely scraping top 50

    • Joey

      I 100% agree with you b_soc. With how he looked after his last fight against a fringe top 25 LHW, theres no way he should walk in and get a title shot.

      Have him fight the loser of Pettis/Cerrone or better yet, Gray Maynard. That would give us a good indication of where he stands.

    • 100% agree with you. He’s had his eyes on Penn and Edgar the entire time they were fighting top guys in the UFC defending the belt and he was fighting in Strikeforce. And he says Benson has to beat him to prove he’s #1? Are you kidding me.I hope he draws Gray Maynard or Jim Miller for his first UFC fight. I like Gil to but that’s just disrespectful to say about Benson.

      • Shakir Hanifa

        CANT AGREE MORE!!!! who is he been fighting in strikeforce? some unknown guys and fight 3 times each guys? its a joke.
        I always thought Nate Diaz is a better fighter than Gil and YES Benson made him look like an amature. I will be so dissapointed if Gilbert gets a title fight soon as he moves to UFC. He definitely have to prove he s the number 1. I would like to see him fight with Cowboy Ceronie. It will be a nice matchup since he wants to get the revenge back with Nate Diaz.

      • Mark McDowall

        Just another product of Ceaser Gracies guys talking out of their butts to get attention. Melendez hasn’t fought a legitimate contender for years. He would get killed by any of the top 5 LW’s in the UFC pretty handily if you ask me…

        • Ron Couden

          Such an ignorant statement

          • Mark McDowall

            Whats ignorant about it? The fact that he hasn’t fought a guy ranked in the top 10 in a hell of a long time? Or that He would get killed by Henderson, Cerrone, Pettis, Maynard, Diaz? In fact if you look at his list of opponents…none of them, except Clay Guida and Ayoki, have EVER been ranked in the top 10 in the world.

    • Anthony Lopez

      That is EXACTLY what I was gonna say. Henderson has the strap in the top promotion, everyone else has to prove themselves against him, not the other way around. Gilbert…. yeah, he needs to beat some credible opponents before he can start making claims like this

      • PJ Brennan

        Henderson should have lost to Frankie, at the very least in the 2nd fight. Gilbert deserves the shot more then Nick Diaz does against GSP.

        • hamm

          So much speculation on Edgar henderson fights. Hendo hit em with way harder shots both fights. Frankie looked like he was sparring trying to get hits n score points at least everyone I watched those fights with clearly sees Ben won both n yes frankie came pretty Damn close. It is debatable but I’m still a little shocked so many think framkie really won those fights. Nah

        • Stanislav Alyas

          When you say at the very least what do you mean by that? because I hope you’re not saying that he won the first fight, because then that would be absolutely retarded

    • bc

      i agree

    • TriangleChoker


  • Brandon Donovan

    Sorry Gil if a guy who hadn’t been relevant in the sport since 2006 beats you once and gives you fits every time you fought in your “epic three fight series” your the one who has to prove your not another Jorge Santiago, Steve Cantwell, Sexyama, ext.

  • stevemcz11

    Anybody but Maynard! Gil has been striking for too long for Gray so it would either be a one sided standing battle for Gil or a one sided lay on top of the guy or Gray. Not interesting at all. Give him winner of Lauzon vs Miller

    • Joey

      Don’t underestimate Gray’s striking. Dude is strong as they come for 155, tough as hell and was able to catch Frankie, who is much quicker than Gilbert.

      Not mention his wrestling and ground & pound. Gray would be a nightmare match up for Melendez.

      • Anthony Lopez

        I agree. I think Gray takes this matchup almost every time

  • bc

    No Gilbert, to prove you are a contender, you have to beat someone in the top 10 in the UFC

  • billgoat

    A strikeforce fighter claiming #1 in the world come on. The talent in SF is mediocre to the UFC. If Gilbert is so great he would have been in the UFC long ago. Gilbert and the Diaz bros. are big loud talkers that think that they are the best in the world. They must teach Narcissism in their camp.

    • Ron Couden

      It wasn’t his decision to stay in Strikeforce. Man the idiots on this message board are so ridiculously uneducated.

  • cockrobin1

    Melendez would need to shut the fuk up he’s not even in the same promotion never mind the same league. He thinks because strikeforce is closing up shop he will talk his way like the mouth (sonnen) into a championship fight. Talk is cheap man get to the end of the queue like everyone else douchebag!!!

    • Ron Couden

      Get an education loser!

  • Sneakyfoot

    GM will provide many great matchups over the next year or two when he makes it to the UFC. Can’t wait.

  • Sean Sherk You’re Dead

    I Hope the UFC puts Maynard vs Melendez, so we can see Gilbert Sleeping at the end of the fight.

  • Uranus

    Has everyone forgotten that Anthony Pettis beat Henderson’s ass quite comprehensively? Why is he not getting a title shot?

    • Bigdaddy0788

      Did you watch the fight? It was about as close as they get. I like both fighters but there was no clear victor in that fight. Not to mention Bendo keeps getting better and it seems to me like pettis’ heart isn’t in it anymore.

    • doomrider7

      He hasn’t looked so hot since his transition to the UFC while Bendo has looked progressively amazing.

      • Stanislav Alyas

        Not to hot but that high kick ko of Lozano was pretty sick

    • TriangleChoker

      I wouldn’t say it was comprehensive. It was close, and Bendo has gotten better whereas Pettis seems to have stayed the exact same.

    • Sheikh

      Because he lost to Guida.

    • hamm

      I have that fight pettis surely won but it was not quite comprehensively

      • Uranus

        Ok, perhaps I am left with the impression of that kick off the cage. I definitely thought that Pettis was a level above in that fight, even though I was cheering for Bendo. Pettis got unlucky not to get an instant title shot in the UFC to unify the 2 belts, because of the whole Edgar-Maynard scenario. The Guida fight was a lot closer than many thought, because even though Pettis was on his back, he was constantly attacking from his guard. Pettis then went on to win his following 2 matches including an impressive knock out of an in form Joe Lauzon. Bendo doesn’t ko anybody, but then again he doesn’t get ko’d either. He has some supernatural submission defence too if you watch his first fight with Donald Cerrone. He got choked out early in his career to Rocky Johnson but has looked unsubmittable since then, that’s why I knew Diaz wasn’t going to have his number. Part of the submission game is that the loser at some point accepts their fate prior to the hold being sunk in, and Hendo doesn’t have that mentality. But the point remains, Pettis should get the shot at the belt, he has removed it from Bendo before, and it will be a hell of a fight the next time

    • Stanislav Alyas

      Because Pettis lost to Clay Guida and now he has a 2 fight win streak and he’s gonna fight cerrone To become the number one contender. I think Ben has got a lot better, and this time around I think Ben would beat him, Probably not crush him, but just enough to beat them.

  • Sir_Roy

    UFC is the big leagues. Strikeforce is 2nd tier. I agree with all those stating Gil has to prove himself in the Octagon … certainly not Ben who has anything to prove.

  • RonnieV

    Boy, the keyboard warriors are out in full hate mode. People love to discredit Gilbert, eventhough he has an impeccable record. Yet most of you guys are touting people who have had only 3-4 fights in the UFC. Outside of Bendo, they have all lost at least once. Pettis is the only person that has a gripe, other than that Gil deserves the next shot.

    • b-soc

      Its not discrediting Gilbert, its not giving credit where it isn’t earned. Professional players look like stars in the minor leagues. He has an impeccable record because he hasn’t fought any big competition, and RonnieV, if you try to say that the people he has fought are top level competition, you’ll be laughed out of this forum! If you are not losing, you are not fighting the right people (Anderson Silva is an exception to every rule).

      • Ron Couden

        Anybody that fights in Strikeforce or UFC is top level competition. If you are in the Top 20 in the world you are top level competition. Pettis is the only other person deserving of a title fight in the LW division, but he is already booked with Cerrone. Next in line is Melendez. The idiots that keep saying you are not good unless you are in the UFC are boneheads. There are plenty of great fighters not in the UFC (yet).

    • Joey

      Not one person has come on here and said “OMG GILBERT IZZZ SOO BAD LULZ!!”. We have simply stated that he hasnt done anything to deserve an immediate title shot or has the right to imply that Bendo isn’t the top LHW until he beats him.

      Need I remind you that before his Jorge Masvidal fight, he was in negotiations to sign with the UFC and guess what? He took the easy way out and stuck with Strikeforce and their shallow lightweight division that he could dominate. This was all before the UFC ended up buying Strikeforce.

      You also state we are touting people that have fought in the UFC and lost. The key phrase there is “fought in the UFC”. They may have had a loss or two but thats due to fighting the best LHWs in the world. Not the joke of competition that Gil has preyed on for years.

      • Ron Couden

        Joey, you obviously know nothing about Gilbert’s decision to stay in Strikeforce. IT WASN’T HIS DECISION! It was a Showtime decison. Gilbert was under contract, even after the UFC bought Strikeforce.

        • Joey

          The irony in you say saying I know nothing is hilarious.

          The decision for him not to fight for the ufc over the last year was indeed Strikeforce’s decision. However at the end of 2010/beginning of 2011 Gilbert’s contract with Strikeforce ended. He was in negotiations with the UFC but he ultimately re signed with Strikeforce. Hence why I said he re signed with a promotion that he knew he could roll through their division instead of signing up to fight the best LHWs in the world. Perhaps you should be a little more knowledgeable before you tell someone they don’t know anything.

    • TriangleChoker

      I love Gil, but he has done nothing that suggests he is anything other than UFC material at best. He can fight Clay again, or Jim Miller, or Joe Lauzon….I can go on. If he beats one of those guys then he can have a shot at a premium LW contender, then I’ll buy into a title shot..

  • TheMightyCain

    Just on the grounds that Gilbert is the SF Champion, this gets him the 1st time shot at Henderson’sbelt. They should do it just like the UFC did with the Pride belt and turn into a unification bout. Simple. It doesn’t really matter who Gilbert fought or what you think of SF, he is their Champion. If he walks in the UFC with the SF belt, then that gives immediate motive on both sides to prove something. Ben wants that fight immediately too I would bet.

    • tour

      SF isn’t Pride. Pride had as good or better fighters than the UFC did when the merger happened. SF has a few big fish in a small pond. Gil is an unknown commodity. He hasn’t fought anybody in the top 10 in a while, and the people he beat are no longer in the top 10

  • TriangleChoker

    I think you have that backwards Gil….even backwards its a big statement. Who have you beaten? The Punk? Aoki?

    Not sure where this guy gets his hype from. I was excited to see him 4-5 years ago and it has been a real disappointment….still hasn’t even had a big fight yet.

    Realistically – his career was F-ed over by being in Strikeforce.

    Come to the UFC, get past Jim Miller and we’ll talk.

    • TW

      I think you’re right. Big fish, small pond. Gilbert has a lot of heart but he has never really been tested by a top guy at 155. Jim Miller would be a good gatekeeper for him in the UFC. If he gets past Miller maybe give him a shot at Gray Maynard. If he gets past Maynard, then maybe he has earned a title shot. I have seen Gilbert fight live several times and I think he has some holes in his game that the top guys would take advantage of.

  • Gilbert you are overrated

  • David Smith

    No Gilbert for a champion of another organazation besides ufc to be number one in the world they have to beat the number one guy in ufc not the other way around.

  • Armtech

    Ah Gily niño, who the **** you think are you anyway? After you lose, who will be next Ceasar Gracie?

    • C. Gray C

      Ceasar Gracie is legit. Didn’t you see his fight against Frank Shamrock? Ceasar pulled guard and lay on his back waiting for Frank to fall into his BJJ trap, but Frank was too scared and the ref awarded the fight to Frank because it was his birthday or something. Great fight.

  • Gilbert Melendez is 22-2. He has avenged both of his losses. He could arguably be the number 1 lw in the world.

    Take, Benson Henderson, Anthony Pettis, and Donald Cerrone, all were at the top in other fighting promotions. As they entered the UFC, they proved that they were inded serious contenders.
    I agree, that Melendez should first fight for a title shot vs fight for the title, but one should not be saying that he is not ufc championship material.

    • jeremy

      he fights second rate cans does Gilbert .. what he says doesnt mean ****.

  • mundoramos

    this coming from someone who just punked out to pat healy…he aint that confident in his skills just trying a little diaz trash talk

  • ufosrreal

    Who is Melendez? I love Bendo, but still think Frankie got robbed in the rematch. Sorry!

  • From what I understand, Gilbert was saying that, until Benson beats him, their will be a doubt as to who the best lw in the world is. In order to claim to be the undisputed best, he first needs to take Gilbert out of the equation.

    Gilbert was not saying that Benson’s job (as a UFC champion) is to step up and fight him.
    Chill out on the hate.

  • Gregg

    It’s a business so you’d almost have to make a Bendo/Melendez title fight. It’s a match-up that would definitely sell.

  • jeremy

    stop with the bendo crap, you sound like morons. Benson.. or Henderson ..

  • Jonathan

    no gilbert i don’t think so

  • Stanislav Alyas

    Dud be wouldn’t walk through Melendez he would run through him, bro plz Thompson spanked his ass in that last fight. It was so close, I had 3 rounds for Thompson. Bro this guy needs to be put in his place. He’s not good he Barely get by fighters like Masvidal, and Thompson. Ben would crush him, and get that first finish he’s been looking for

  • iLogos

    You’ve got that backwards.You need to get through Benson to prove you are number 1, he already went through the number one consensus best in the division.

    Not to say you can’t beat him, just to say you haven’t done it yet. To be the best you have to beat the best and the best is the guy with the strap.