The message from Strikeforce lightweight Gilbert Melendez is clear: He wants to fight Eddie Alvarez.
Recently both Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez have made statements that Strikeforce as a promotion is “protecting” Melendez from that fight. The Cesar Gracie trained fighter is letting his voice be heard that he wants the fight to happen as well. Melendez says he wants to face the best in the world and Alvarez falls into that category. Both fighters reside near the top of the lightweight rankings.
“Of course I want to fight Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, those are the guys I do want to fight, and I do mention them so much because I really want to figure out who’s No. 1 in the world. That would help me figure it out right there,” Melendez told MMAWeekly Radio recently.
Melendez wants everyone to know that if there have been problems in putting together a fight with the Bellator champion, it’s nothing coming from him, because he’s been a vocal employee for Strikeforce asking for the bout to happen.
“Heck yeah, I think I’ve been the one making the most noise about this and I think I’m finally starting to get heard,” Melendez said. “I’m pretty sure Eddie Alvarez, no offense to any of the fighters, but I’m pretty sure Eddie Alvarez isn’t happy beating Toby Imada, or me fighting guys like, no offense to Lyle Beerbohm or some of these other young guys, they’re all tough, but I know Eddie wants to fight me, I want to fight Eddie.”
The promotional hurdles seem to be the biggest obstacle in all of this actually taking place. Rebney has been very vocal about putting the fight together, hitting the podium at every chance to call for the lightweight megafight.
Melendez has decided to take matters into his own hands. In the past he’s been like many fighters saying he will fight whoever the promotion puts in front of him. No more says Melendez, who will gladly call for the fights he wants and hopes Strikeforce and its CEO Scott Coker are listening.
“I think we’re getting warmer, I think our voices are getting heard,” Melendez commented. “I think as a fighter I’m trying to step up to make some noise and be heard. Eddie Alvarez is making some noise about it, the fans are starting to hear, the buzz is out, and it sounds like it’s a possibility.
“I’m trying to step up and make things happen for myself so I’m calling out names. This is a guy who I think is within my reach to fight, so that’s why I’m making noise about it. It’s not out of disrespect or nothing, but I do want to fight that guy.”
While all current signs point to Melendez returning to action in Japan against Shinya Aoki in Dream to close out 2010, the Strikeforce champion hopes that when Strikeforce schedules his next fight the name on the contract is Eddie Alvarez.
“It makes sense. It makes sense to figure it out, and if they bring that to the table, I’m more than happy (to accept). I’ve been trying to bring that to the table. I know Bjorn (Rebney) says it, I know Scott Coker says it, but they are the two businessmen and they have to figure that out, and hopefully they can come to an agreement,” said Melendez.
“Win or lose, I just want to figure out if I can beat this guy or not. I can’t live with myself not knowing.”
The two sides may continue to talk, but Melendez is hopeful that a deal can be hashed out and the fight can be put together as soon as possible. If the fight does happen it would be the first co-promotion between Strikeforce and Bellator, and could mean big things for both promotions down the road as they try to stave off the UFC promotional machine.