by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Gilbert Melendez will face Midwest talent Gabe Lemley on the Showtime and EliteXC co-promoted March 29 fight card, which will air on the Showtime premium network.
Strikeforce vice president Mike Afromowitz confirmed the bout on Monday evening, saying, “Gilbert is going to fight Gabe Lemley. This is a title bout, five rounds.”
Melendez last fought as part of the Yarennoka fight card on Dec. 31 in Japan. Unfortunately for him, the bout became the first loss of his career, as he was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision with Mitsuhiro Ishida.
“More than anyone, fans, people, my family, it’s important to me to come out ferocious, mean and show people I’m here to stay,” Melendez told MMAWeekly about his upcoming bout before Lemley was announced. “I’m focused and it means a lot to me to not only win, but win with bad intentions and put on a good show for the fans.”
Hailing out of Iowa, Lemley had a rough start to his career, losing four his first five fights. He has since posted a 10-2 record and comes into this title bout riding a five-fight winning streak.
Another bout confirmed on Monday by Afromowitz was Nick Diaz vs. Jae Suk Lim.
Diaz returns following a disappointing loss by technical knockout to K.J. Noons at the EliteXC show this past November in Corpus Christi, Texas. A Spirit MC veteran, Lim promises to be no easy task on Diaz’s road to recovery. He holds a 9-3 professional record and, like Diaz, rarely goes the distance.
There had been speculation that Paul Buentello, Jorge Santiago, and Paul Daley would all fight on this event as well, but Afromowitz confirmed that none of them would be fight on the March 29 card.
Frank Shamrock will defend his Strikeforce middleweight title in the main event against rising talent Cung Le and Jake Shields will face Drew Fickett to crown the first ever EliteXC welterweight champion.