Coming off of a five-fight win streak, and looking to make his third defense of the Strikeforce lightweight title, Gilbert Melendez is said by some to be the last bastion of legitimate pound for pound talent outside of the UFC (for now).
Holding notable victories over Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri, Melendez’s official record is 19-2 and includes him having avenged both of his losses (to Josh Thomson and Mitsuhiro Ishida respectively).
Melendez’s next opponent has been officially announced as Jorge Masvidal, thus dispelling rumours of Melendez defecting to the UFC, Masivdal is coming off of an impressive decision win over former welterweight contender KJ Noons and should be looking to impress in his first major title fight.
In a recent interview with MMAWeekly, Melendez commented on his upcoming opponent, as well as a few other topics, saying, “He’s definitely a very talented fighter, he has a very good reach, he uses it well, he has a good jab and some really good straight punches, he knows how to get back to his feet, he knows how to use the cage real well.”
“He’s become a well rounded Mixed Martial Artist. So he definitely poses a threat and should be a good challenge for me,” he concluded.
He also talked about the UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar, explaining the New Jersey native needs to drop down in weight to confirm his newfound pound-for-pound stature. On the subject, Melendez stated, “Frankie is very well deserving of being a pound for pound guy, but until he goes to 145lb and takes care of business, I don’t know how he’s going to be a pound-for-pound (great).”
Afterwards, he hinted at increasing his own P4P status by moving up again for a second time after an earlier run in his career at featherweight. “I’ve done it in two weight-classes, I’m on my second weight-class, and if things go well here then maybe I’ll go to (welterweight).”
Melendez will look to extend his unbeaten streak once more against Masvidal on Decmeber 17 at Strikeforce’s show in San Diego, California.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE