by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com (additional reporting by Ken Pishna)
Gilbert Melendez will get his wish and face Shinya Aoki on CBS.
The Strikeforce lightweight champion will return to action in April to face the Dream lightweight champion in a marquee fight on the promotion’s return to network TV.
The news was confirmed to MMAWeekly.com on Monday by sources close to the fight. Finalization of the fight was first reported by Josh Gross of SI.com.
After winning back the Strikeforce lightweight title in December, Melendez spoke with MMAWeekly Radio about his desire to face Aoki in the near future, so much so that he began dreaming about it.
“All of a sudden this year, I avenged both my losses. I cleaned my slate. I beat Rodrigo Damm, a tough guy, I’m the champ again, and now they’re talking about me fighting the No. 2 guy in the world,” Melendez stated. “One win away from being top five in the world again.
“The night I got home after fighting Josh, I promise, I had a dream of Aoki that same night.”
Since losing to Thomson in 2008, Melendez has been on a tear, defeating Rodrigo Damm, Mitsuhiro Ishida, and then a rematch with Thomson to regain the 155-pound title. Now ready to solidify his place among the best lightweights in the world, he faces the fighter currently seated at No. 2, according to the MMAWeekly.com World MMA Rankings.
Shinya Aoki has proven to be one of the most dangerous ground fighters to ever step foot in an MMA fight. The Japanese fighter has defeated some of the best lightweights in the world including Eddie Alvarez, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, and Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante.
The submission machine is just coming off of a win over Mizuto Hirota in Japan, in which Aoki finished the fight with an armbar that looked to almost twist his opponent’s limb off his body, causing a grotesque break, before flashing an obscene gesture in celebration.
The bout between Melendez and Aoki is the third major fight Strikeforce has signed recently. Jake Shields vs. Dan Henderson was confirmed last week, and just today Gegard Mousasi was slotted to face Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal as well.