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Gilbert Melendez: “I wish some of these guys in the UFC would take the risk…”

In a week Gilbert Melendez will put his Strikeforce title on the line against Josh Thomson, the latest in a line of talented foes “El Nino” has faced lacking elite status. While a win over Thomson is an accomplishment to be proud of, it’s also one doing little to cement Melendez’s place at the top of the 155-pound division.

Melendez is all too familiar with the unfortunate truth that the world’s best lightweights do their work inside the Octagon, even going so far as to ask Zuffa to bring one or two over for him to tackle given that the company owns both Strikeforce and the UFC. The 30-year old Californian recently addressed his current reality where his attitude seemed to be one of mild acceptance mixed with understandable disappointment.

“I think the common fan still hears my name and says, ‘Who the hell is that? I think the reason is because they haven’t seen me fight or that I’m not in the UFC,” explained Melendez in an interview with “I get respect from my fellow fighters, but the common fan doesn’t know who I am because they don’t follow Strikeforce the way they follow the UFC.”

“I wish some of these guys in the UFC would take the risk,” Melendez continued on his frustration with seemingly being bogged down in the prime of his career. “At the end of the day I understand the business moves. I’m sure their managers tell them fighting me in Strikeforce isn’t the best business move, and I understand.”

At one time, both B.J. Penn and Anthony Pettis were named as possible options according to Melendez’s camp with some confirmation coming from UFC President Dana White as well.

Though the future of Strikeforce remains uncertain, and he may not necessarily be happy about his circumstances, Melendez still seems intent on finishing out his deal with the organization before moving on (or moving over to the UFC’s roster as the case may be).

“I’m going to be with Strikeforce for a while, or at least until my contract is up. I have this fight plus three more, and I respect that,” said Melendez, showing he’s a man of honor above all else.

If Melendez gets by Thomson there appear to be slim pickings in terms of future contenders to the crown. First in line is likely Pat Healy who is on a four-fight winning streak or possibly Eddie Alvarez if Zuffa decides to sign him away from Bellator when he becomes a free agent in a few months.


  • AlphaOmega says:

    I think a lot of the LW fighters would actually do it, if the UFC would let them. Maybe not the fighters who are right on a title fight, but some of the lesser known fighters would probably willingly go over to SF to build their name up and get a shot at that belt.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    The winner of Guida-Maynard would be good since there’s already a line for a shot at the UFC belt.

  • He signed a contract knowing where he is at…thats all I have to say

  • darth_irritable says:

    Exactly FF13. No-one was holding a gun to his head when he put pen to paper.

    I would love to see BJ in Strikeforce. It would be very telling if Zuffa could get him to go. They’d have to pay him a boatload, which would mean they’re actually investing in Strikeforce, and also give it some much needed credibility.

    In all honesty, I get the sense once there are no further contractual obligations to Showtime, SF is done.

  • YetiLee says:

    When Melendez signed the contract Strikeforce was not in the shape it is today. It had a growing roster of decent fighters and they were an organization that was spending a ton of money trying to compete with the UFC. Take a look of the roster they had when Melendez signed his deal and take a look at it now. I am sure if he knew that Strikeforce was going to be stripped of the talent they had and that he would be the last man standing there he never would have signed. So in all honesty you can’t make the statement “He signed a contract knowing where he is at” because at that time it was a growing company and not a dying one.

  • darth_irritable says:

    I understnad what you’re saying, but have to disagree Yeti. On that basis, Shields would have stayed in Strikeforce, and it wouldn’t have been a distant second choice for Hendo.

  • MCM says:

    I feel like these Gilbert threads are becoming the same as Fedor threads. All the same points keep getting rehashed.

    – No top UFC fighter will go to SF cause it makes sense career wise just for a one off with Gilbert.
    – Melendez made his own bed as he was complaining BEFORE he resigned that there wasn’t enough competition in SF and that everyone was calling out KJ Noons when he had the belt.
    – the UFC should have never extended the contract with Showtime as it froze several fighters into their contracts with SF and took away any chance for them to move over up to the big show.
    etc, etc, etc.

    Gilbert is gonna keep bitching about the UFC until his contract runs out, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So why keep talking about the same thing over and over?

  • Rece Rock says:

    If they presented it to the UFC fighters as just another fight under there contract and it wouldn’t lock them into SF unless they won a championship then I thi k guys would be less concerned about taking a step back…. A guy like Maynard or pettit goes there and beats Melendez in a non title fight they are right there next in line at a shot at the UFC belt… And if it is for the sf title and they win then they should be happy to have a strap and the ability to maybe get more UFC fighters to come over and take a crack at them…. It just has to be presented as a win/win to the guys that would be willing to crossover or make one off appearances

  • MCM says:

    I may be wrong but I believe that the contract with Showtime specifically stated that the LW ( and MW) champs could not leave SF. If that’s the case then a UFC fighter would come over to SF, win the belt, and then be stuck in the same situation as Gilbert with no real opponents, no real exposure, and not as many opportunities to make money. While Melendez would be free to transfer over to the UFC and fight on bigger cards, get OTN money, and be inline for a title shot at one of the most coveted belts in the sport.
    Are these UFC fighters gonna go whitewash Tom Sawyers fence afterwords?

  • JBAR says:

    Co-promote an event once a year. Bring some of the promising the TUF fighters into Strikeforce for a year to allow them to develop. There are a lot of things that could be done to breathe new life into Strikeforce. It will never be the UFC but can be made into a valuable asset.


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