Lightweight Gilbert Melendez may still technically be part of the Strikeforce roster but he, like the rest of the company’s top competitors, is Octagon-bound in 2013. Though a longstanding champion, Melendez is not guaranteed a shot at the UFC title once he joins the organization. However, he definitely wants to get his hands on Benson Henderson’s belt and feels it’s a logical match-up to make considering both are neck-and-neck for the distinction of being the 155-pound pool’s biggest shark.
“Your eyes are always on the guy with the UFC strap. Your eyes were on Frankie Edgar for a long time, and B.J. Penn for a long time, and everyone needs to adapt for the champ, to figure out how to beat them. I think about it all the time with Benson Henderson,” admitted Melendez in an interview with MMAWeekly. “If he wants to be undoubtedly No. 1, I think that would be a good victory for him to prove it or for me to prove otherwise.”
Melendez also added that he was open to facing a different opponent in his UFC debut if the Zuffa brass deems it necessary but feels he’s ready for the challenge right now.
The 21-2 has won seven straight scraps including those against Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal, and Shinya Aoki. Meanwhile, Henderson holds an 18-2 mark in his career and come out of the cage with his hand raised in six consecutive clashes including a recent outpointing of Melendez’s friend/teammate Nate Diaz.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC