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Gilbert Melendez: “I want to fight Benson Henderson.”

Benson HendersonWith Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez off the organization’s final hurrah in January, “El Nino” has turned his attention towards the UFC where he expects to land after the likely dismantling of the organization he currently calls home. However, he still hopes his next bout will come with the added tag of a title being on the line – just not his own.

“I want to fight Benson Henderson,” said the 30-year old in a conversation with Bleacher Report. “I think a champion versus champion fight makes absolute sense right now. I think we already know how things are going to work out between Benson Henderson and a lot of other lightweight fighters in the UFC, but I’m that mystery fighter. No one really knows how I’m going to matchup with anyone. I have been around for a long time and have been the top lightweight in the world before Benson or any of these other guys.”

Asked what made him unique in comparison to other divisional contenders, Melendez pointed to his blend of powerful, precise striking with more-than respectable wrestling rather than being solely reliant on one area of expertise like many of Henderson’s past opponents.

“I think I have a lot of answers for his style. Sometimes he fights a wrestler like Clay Guida who doesn’t have great hands and sometimes he fights strikers who can’t really wrestle,” explained Melendez. “Look his fights against Donald Cerrone back in the day or even Anthony Pettis. I have that wrestling pedigree where he ain’t taking me down and I’ll be stuffing some shots. I’m not backing away and I’ll be dropping some bombs. I’m not an easy guy to stand with. I have a lot of power and I’m not running away from kicks. I don’t run away from anything. I hold my ground. I’ll be coming for him and anything he dishes out I’ll be answering back twice as hard.”

Though Melendez’s statements may help him ultimately land a title-shot the first time he steps up in the Octagon, he also has the credentials to back the opportunity up. Melendez holds an overall record of 21-2 and is currently on a seven-fight winning streak including success against Josh Thomson, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jorge Masvidal, and Shinya Aoki.


  • Dachman says:

    I like the enthusiasm but Henderson will work him bad. After his first 4 UFC fights if he is 2-2 I wouldn’t be surprised. He hasn’t been fighting the best and 155 is brutal in the UFC!

  • Rece Rock says:

    Not interested… a fighter just outside the top 10 in Josh Thompson gave him a serious run for his money. As awesome as it would be for fresh faces like Gilbert or Alverez to just walk in and fight for the title I personally think they need a top ten win inside the Octagon to really call out the champ… LW is too stacked to not have prove yourself.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    I think Melendez will have a similar impact on the UFC as Jake Shields, with the added benefit that Gil’s style of fighting is more entertaining to watch.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Also, for a guy that is too injured to fight next month–unable to fulfill his contractual obligations with SF, and indirectly screwing over Pat Healy–it’s interesting to hear him talk so enthusiastically about wanting to fight Bendo and that a champ vs. champ matchup “makes absolute sense right now.”

    Yes Strikeforce has been a mess for a while now, but Gil’s handling of matters has been a bit questionable. I don’t think he should be rewarded with an immediate title shot in the UFC, but all that will matter is which matchup with Bendo will make the most $$ between Gil & whichever other contenders are in the picture at that time (Cerrone, Pettis, Alvarez, etc.).

    If I was in charge, the Cerrone-Pettis winner would get the next title shot, and Melendez would fight Alvarez (assuming the pieces come together) to unify the non-UFC belts and earn a shot at the UFC champ.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    Errr…I guess Eddie doesn’t bring a belt with him, but that’s still how I’d like to see things play out.

  • AlphaOmega says:

    I still maintain that it’s because Gil didn’t want to risk losing the bargaining chip that is the SF belt, although how much of a bargaining chip it is I don’t really know.

  • MCM says:

    Agreed. I think Bam Bam was gonna walk away with the belt and Gilbert may have had that thought as wel. (What’s up Healy’s future anyway?)

    And while I agree that El Nino doesn’t necessarily deserve the title shot, I’m not that interested in Hendo/Cerrone III at this point. So if Petis comes out on the losing end of his scrap with Donald, Gilbert really is the next best option. Which says more about the state of the UFC’s LW division than Gilberts credentials.

  • climbarock says:

    If Pettis beats Cerrone, I think Pettis v Henderson II makes sense. Then, if Gilbert wins his UFC debut, he should get the next shot at the champ. I disagree that Gil should have to win multiple fights against top 10 guys to get a shot…that’ll just lead to the contenders cannibalizing each other, and less frequent title fights. No thanks.


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