Before Ben Henderson emerged as the UFC’s top lightweight contender by beating Clay Guida a different curly-coiffed 155er was rumored to be in line for a shot at champion Frankie Edgar after UFC President Dana White mentioned the company’s interest in giving him an express route to the Octagon.
Even Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce’s title-holder at the same weight, thought he might be the latest fighter from the floundering organization to head to deeper waters in the UFC. However, with a previously planned bout against Jorge Masvidal ultimately materializing, Melendez saw his plans put on hold for at least the immediate future.
“El Nino” reflected on the process in an interview with MMAFighting where he explained he viewed the entire situation as a positive even if he admittedly was excited about the potential move.
“Nah, I’m not very disappointed at all,” Melendez said. “The hype was there for a second. I was jazzed. I was hoping, ‘Yeah, maybe it’s really happening,’ but I’m pumped – I’m pumped to be fighting Jorge. I’m pumped to be testing myself.”
“I’m more popular than ever now…Dana White, the man, said go check Gilbert out and now people are checking me out,” continued Melendez on the silver-lining surrounding the situation. “So I’m actually grateful on that. I’m an optimistic guy. I look at that like a glass half-full.”
What happens after December 17 is anyone’s guess though Melendez made it clear he’ll find his way into the UFC at some point, saying, “At the end of the day it’s gonna happen.”
Other match-ups on the Strikeforce card include Gegard Mousasi vs. Ovince St. Preux and Billy Evangelista vs. KJ Noons, as well as a title-fight between female 145-pound champ Cris Santos and 12-1 Hiroko Yamanaka.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE