So then there was one. With Strikeforce’s final card ending the promotion’s run as the number two organization in the sport, it is time for the fighters who graced the Hexagon to find other organization for which to display their skills. Everyone will not be brought into the UFC but for those that do, a new level of opportunity waits to greet them. None of the athletes with a new employer may be looking forward to their new opportunities than the last man to hold the Strikeforce lightweight title, Gilbert Melendez.
Early reports are that the Cesar Gracie fighter will be facing UFC lightweight champion, Benson Henderson at UFC on Fox 7. Melendez has long been considered one of the top lightweights in the sport and now he finally has the opportunity to prove his place in the sport.
According to multiple sources within the mixed martial arts community; an April 20th showdown is the promotion’s “intended direction.” The story has since been pushed across multiple outlets. However, the UFC still hasn’t made any forward comments about the rumors due to potential problems that can arise.
While sitting atop of Strikeforce’s lightweight division, Melendez hasn’t fought the best that the sport has to offer in the weight class but he’s stayed consistent since winning the title from Clay Guida in 2006. He lost the title to Josh Thompson in 2008 but regained the belt during a unification bout that next year. He’s defeated the likes of Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal during this latest run that has him riding seven straight wins into the Octagon.
Henderson has been on a similar tear since moving into the UFC. He’s won six straight fights since losing the WEC lightweight title to Anthony Pettis back in 2010. In that time he’s defeated Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, Clay Guida, Jim Miller and Mark Bocek.
If the UFC can pull off this matchup it would perhaps be one of the biggest fights they can offer in what has already been a very interesting 2013 in match making respects. Henderson and Melendez use very similar styles and would provide an action packed bout that both hardcore and mainstream fans would get behind. Placing it on free television would only bolster its worth by giving exposure to two champions that have decent size followings already. Assisted by a strong undercard that features some additional contenders and the UFC could be looking at another major Fox event.
While it’s still too early to see if the bout will truly happen or not, the simple rumor of Benson Henderson against Gilbert Melendez is the type of contest that will get fight fans excited for what could be down the pipeline.