Gilbert MelendezStrikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez recently withdrew from his second straight title-defense due to injury, opting out of a January bout with Pat Healy on the organization’s final card. Though Strikeforce may be folding, it looks like Melendez’s return to the ring is still likely to involve gold being on the line, as UFC President Dana White has confirmed “El Nino” is in line for a fast-tracking to the top of the contendership ladder once he joins the world’s foremost MMA promotion.

“He’ll probably come right in and get a title-shot,” stated White in a conversation with MMAWeekly, adding that he’s happy to finally be giving Strikeforce’s roster a chance to shine on a larger stage. “I feel sorry for what happened to them and I’m just happy that they’re coming to the UFC now.”

Melendez holds an overall record of 21-2 with eleven TKOs to his credit. He has come out with his hand raised in his last seven scraps including success against Tatsuya Kawajiri, Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson, and Shinya Aoki.