Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez has said several times over past few months that he believes he is the top 155-pound fighter in the world, but when the talking is over, he’s more than happy to prove it.
He might get the opportunity to do just that now that Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, has purchased Strikeforce.
For the time being, Zuffa officials are content letting Strikeforce run as a separate entity, but just about everyone assumes that over time more and more athletes will start to cross over for super fights, or possibly one final merger will put the two brands together.
However it works out, Melendez is just happy that the walls separating him from fighting other top lightweights like Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard are now coming down, even if it’s just a few bricks at a time.
“As a fighter and as a fan, I’m happy about it,” Melendez said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio about Zuffa’s purchase of Strikeforce. “From a business standpoint, it actually benefited me, I believe. Obviously, I’ve got to stay sharp on my game because the UFC cuts people. It’s real cutthroat as a business, you’re only as good as your last fight.
“With that said, I plan on training hard, I plan on working hard, and I want to take this sport to a whole new level. I believe I’m going to fit in just perfect out there.”
The purchase also serves as perfect motivation for Melendez to impress in his fight coming up this weekend against Tatsuya Kawajiri. He’s been saying he’s No. 1 and now he’s ready to back the words up with actions.
“It puts extra firewood under me, extra motivation, and extra pressure obviously as well. I’ve been doing a lot of talking, so I’ve got to back this up now,” Melendez stated. “I’m eager for it, and I genuinely want to test myself.
“I do want to figure out if I’m the No. 1 fighter in the world. I think I am. And by the end of my career, when I’m done with this weight class, I will be the No. 1 155-pounder in the world.”
The Strikeforce lightweight champion believes that now is the best time for this purchase to happen because he’s in his prime.
“I’m 29 years old and I have years in me to fight, and I plan on before my career is over, I’m going to be on top,” Melendez stated.
There is one other thing he is looking forward to, now that UFC president Dana White is his boss instead of his rival. Melendez fully admits it’s nice to hear some compliments come his way from the head of the company.
“Maybe Dana White’s going to give me some credit and talk about me a little more,” he joked.
Melendez will look to take that next shot at establishing himself as the top lightweight in the world when he faces Tatsuya Kawajiri at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley this Saturday night in San Diego.