The champion certainly pitched a shutout over opponent Jorge Masvidal, but it wasn’t the convincing performance he was looking for, but still earned a one-sided unanimous decision win to defend his belt for a third consecutive time.
Melendez came out firing right away and Masvidal, who is normally a great counter puncher, just couldn’t find a rhythm to slow the champion down.
A quick 1-2 combination opened the fight, popping Masvidal in the face, and it never seemed to slow down from there for the challenger. Melendez was headhunting the entire fight and came after Masvidal with big, powerful shots.
The only problem with Melendez’s attacks were for as one-sided as the fight seemed and Masvidal struggling to fire back with much offense at all, it appeared the champion should have put the challenger away within the 25-minute allotment.
Still, Melendez crashed Masvidal time and time again with a flurry of punches, and the American Top Team fighter just couldn’t answer back with anything more than a one strike counter.
The end saw Melendez win 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46, but while it was a dominant performance, it wasn’t the kind of show that many pundits were looking for as he tried to establish himself as the true top lightweight in the sport.
Melendez explained after the fight that Masvidal was a tough stylistic match-up, and his job was to go out and win and that’s exactly what he did.
“I had to do what I had to do,” said Melendez. “Jorge’s not the easiest match-up, especially stylistically for me. This guy’s one of the toughest match-ups for me and I beat him at his own game.”
MeWhile it didn’t show much in the fight, Melendez was hoping to establish his wrestling in the bout with Masvidal but after an early attempt was shrugged off by the challenger, he opted to stand and trade instead.
Now comes the argument about what’s left for Melendez in Strikeforce. The champion still has a multi-fight deal with the promotion and with him being the marquee name on the roster after Zuffa struck a new deal with Showtime to keep Strikeforce alive, it’s likely Melendez isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
So if Melendez isn’t going to the UFC, how about bringing some of the top contenders to him?
“I’m proud to be a part of Strikeforce and Showtime’s amazing, but you know what? They need to bring some guys over here and challenge me,” said Melendez. “I’d like to challenge the champ, whoever it is in the UFC, come to my hexagon and let’s fight.”
It’s unlikely the UFC will be sending either champion Frankie Edgar or Benson Henderson to Strikeforce, but the winner of an upcoming fight like the bout between Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller or possibly Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon could be just the contender Melendez is looking for.