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Strikeforce Champ Gilbert Melendez Will Likely Step Into an Immediate UFC Title Shot

Posted on by Ken Pishna

Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal at StrikeforceIt has been more than a year since UFC president Dana White first declared that Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez was making the move to the Octagon.

It has been more than a year of sheer torture for Melendez and his Strikeforce counterparts that time and again thought Strikeforce had hit the end of the road and that they were going to get a shot on the biggest stage in all of mixed martial arts.

Now, however, there is finally a definitive conclusion to the Strikeforce, Showtime, UFC soap opera.

Strikeforce will run one more event, on Jan. 12 on Showtime, and that will be that. Strikeforce will then cease to exist, and the UFC will pick up many of the fighters and give them a run at the Octagon.

One of the key players to make that move is Melendez, who still holds the Strikeforce belt, but can’t wait to set foot in the Octagon. And White can’t wait for him and the other fighters on the roster to make the move. It’s one of his greatest regrets about the Strikeforce/Showtime debacle.

“What has happened to the fighters in Strikeforce is horrible,” White told MMAWeekly.com on Thursday in Las Vegas. “The way this thing went down and what’s happened to these guys and these guys have been very patient. I feel sorry for what happened to them and I’m just happy that they’re coming to the UFC now.”

Melendez will be followed by several others, but he is the marquee fighter left under the Strikeforce banner after the UFC had already raided much of the promotion’s other top-tier talent.

His patience, however, could pay off in an immediate title shot.

“He’ll probably come right in and get a title shot,” White said of Melendez’s initial prospects in the Octagon.

White didn’t guarantee the title shot, saying, “again, we’ll see,” but it would only make sense.

Melendez has been at the top of the heap, not only at Strikeforce, but in the world, often flip-flopping around the MMAWeekly.com World MMA Rankings top three positions in the lightweight division.

Slotting Melendez into an immediate title shot would be akin to Dan Henderson putting his Pride belts on the line when the UFC acquired the venerable Japanese fight promotion several years ago. It’s the opportunity for the UFC to pull off the type of title unification fight that doesn’t often present itself.

Like any championship situation, the timing will have to match up, but Melendez wants nothing more than to make his way to the UFC and prove that he is the No. 1 lightweight fighter in the world… and now it looks like he just might get the chance.

Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for all the latest UFC news and updates.

  • Darin

    Screw that. I think he should fight Anthony Pettis and the winner gets a goddam GAURANTEED title shot.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john.bunch.969 John Bunch

      That definitely makes sense man, but opportunities like this are hard to pass from a marketing angle….Champ vs Champ, especially with Gil coming in on a run that loooks good when you say it on the air. And, Bas Rutten still thinks Gil is top 2 or 3, and I’m not about to say Bas is wrong on that point. More than likely, Gil gets his title shot right off the bat, and then Pettis wins one more and goes next. If Gil comes in and loses to Pettis…lost opportunity. It sucks that money drives many of the business decisions in the sports world…but it does. Pettis gets his shot…he just needs 1 more win.

      • shakejunt

        pettis already got shafted twice and has a win over ben. give the man his shot, should he beat cowboy.

  • lb

    dont hate

  • stevemcz11

    Damn rite! Hopefully same for Marquardt, Rockhold and Cormier

    • Kris-tyahn

      Marquardt will not fight GSP!

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.sperry.16 George Sperry

    If you think Strikeforce has the same prestige and level of competition as Pride did then it makes sense.
    I don’t and I think that Gilbert is no where near a PnP top 10 fighter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sammy.joe.315 Sammy Joe

    Who cares he will get ass kicked anyways

  • b-soc

    He needs a warm up fight in the Octagon, if he stands any chance at all against beating Benson. Personally, I think he should be given a top 5 UFC lightweight. With the shark pit lightweight dvision, I believe he will be weened into the bottom of the pack pretty quick. If he gets the title fight, Benson will walk through him. Gilbert just hasn’t been fighting the competition in Strikeforce and it makes you very stagnant as a fighter.

    • Ron Couden

      b-Soc, outside of Pettis who deserves a fight with Bendo more than Melendez? Pettis already has a fight scheduled with Cerrone. Melendez is next in line, the only other possible person would be Gray Maynard (who is recovering from injury). The Melendez fight will sell better than any other lightweight, and he deserves the fight over any other lightweight right now. I do not think Gilbert will beat Bendo, but he deserves the shot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mark.mcdowall.14 Mark McDowall

        I have to agree with b-soc. He hasn’t fought anyone tough in years. He will get destroyed by Bendo…and really any of the top 5 UFC 55ers.