Shortly after UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar overcame another rough start against Gray Maynard to score a fourth-frame TKO he was labeled by his boss, Dana White, as being the #2 pound-for-pound fighter in MMA with middleweight title-holder Anderson Silva holding on tight to the top spot.
One of the people listening was Gilbert Melendez, Strikeforce’s 155-pound champion who is also considered by most to be one of the division’s truly elite competitors. While Melendez harbors no ill will towards Edgar and understood the praise he’s been showered with, “El Nino” recently made it clear he’s deserves to be seen as being at least on the New Jersey native’s level if not above it.
“It’s debatable. It’s definitely debatable,” Melendez explained in a conversation with MMAWeekly. “I was the #1 145-pounder in the world a long time ago before a lot of people even knew about it. Then I went up to 155 and now I’ve become top three in the world there there, debatably #1. I’m up there pound-for-pound as well. Frankie is very deserving of being a pound-for-pound guy but until he goes to 145 pounds and takes care of business I don’t know how he’s gonna be (a higher) “pound-for-pound” (fighter) if I’ve done it in two weight classes. I’m on my second weight-class and if things go well here maybe I’ll go to 170, you know?”
Though his final statement came with a smirk, that’s not to say Melendez isn’t actually interested in testing himself at welterweight.
“Yeah, why not? I could fight at 170 pounds and I think I could beat some guys up there,” Melendez replied when asked if such a move might actually take place. “But there are definitely plenty of challenges at 155 right now. But, why not (have it as) a goal in the long term, to be one of the best in the world and go to three weight-classes? I’m not trying to be arrogant. It’s a dream. I’m allowed to dream a little bit and work for it.”
Up next on Melendez’s scheduled is a date with American Top Team’s Jorge Masvidal who the 29-year old will attempt to take out on December 17 before heading to the UFC in 2012. So, will he overcome Edgar’s status as the lightweight king if he beats Masvidal? According to Melendez, he already is even if he understands the argument for “The Answer” sitting on the throne.
“I think I am #1 but I’m sick of saying it. I just want to prove it.”
With an overall record of 19-2 with past victories over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Josh Thomson, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Clay Guida, and Shinya Aoki, the case for Edgar being ranked above him appears to be “debatable” indeed.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE
MMATraining Take: Rankings in general are meaningless based on the subjectivity of criteria involved, as every individual has a different idea of how heavily certain things should be weighed, and pound-for-pound stats are particularly pointless because they involve a huge amount of speculation. However, from the perspective of this piece I see the validity of Melendez’s points, though let’s be real – the guys he was fight at 145 pounds are not near the level of featherweights that exist in the sport today.