Although Bellator FC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez stands out as the fighter most talked about in regards to next opponents, when it comes to strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez nothing is certain. It had been rumored that Melendez would rematch DREAM Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki at the annual end-of-year Japanese super-show “DYNAMITE”. Aoki famously lost to Melendez stateside at Strikeforce: “Nashville” earlier this year. But according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, there’s a large possibility that Melendez/Aoki 2 won’t be happening now that rumors of fiscal irresponsibility have begun to plague DREAM.
Here’s what Coker had to say over at MMA Weekly: “I’m not sure if that fight will happen… We sent K.J. (Noons) over there at the beginning of the year and he got paid in two weeks. When we sent Nick (Diaz), I think he got paid within a couple months. So they have been paying the athletes we have sent over, but I’ve been hearing a lot of the nightmares that you’re talking about… It’s something that we’ll be monitoring as we continue the fighter sharing.”
While I do think that it’s unfortunate that DREAM seems to find itself in an increasingly-worse situation, I have relatively little sympathy for promotions that refuse to pay their workers. I think DREAM has put together some good cards and started out with some great intentions, but when you lose the respect of the fans and the respect of the fighters, you may as well call it a day. And DREAM is quickly losing both with all these rumors about not paying their athletes.
I could not possibly stress enough how important it is to keep the good faith of your fighters. We can squabble and debate the merits of each fighter and their pay all we want, welcome to modern-day sports. But not paying them at all? Inexcusable. It’s a slap in the face to go out, do your job, and not see a penny for your hard work. I’m sure I’m not the only journalist/opinion columnist/whatever with friends in the industry (which is why I always take such a harsh stance whenever this topic pops up), but I’m also not afraid of calling promotions on this. So I’ll say it loud, proud, and again and again: pay your damn fighters.
In regards to Aoki vs. Melendez 2, I honestly have to ask: would this fight really prove anything? Melendez already owns a very convincing win over Aoki. And I know the common response deals with Aoki being inexperienced in the cage and how Melendez benefited from the home team advantage, but I honestly think that’s very unfair to Melendez. Gilbert’s win over Aoki was all skill, nothing should be taken away from that victory even if Aoki had trouble adapting to the cage. I think Gilbert’s skill would easily translate from the ring to the cage and we’d get another blowout performance.
But ultimately, I suppose a second match couldn’t hurt. Who knows, Aoki may even beat Melendez, evening up the score and setting up a possible third match. I have to admit, I’d be far more interested in a trilogy fight if Aoki won the second than I’m currently interested in the actual second fight between these two champions. If it happens I’d watch it, if Aoki wins I’d be shocked, if Melendez wins I’d shrug my shoulders and say “Good, now fight Alvarez already.” At this point I’d be more shocked if DREAM paid Melendez for beating Aoki again than if Melendez actually beat Aoki again.
And what about you, fans and friends? What do you think of DREAM’s rumors of financial instability, as well as the rumors of Melendez/Aoki 2?