Strikeforce is putting a lot of pressure on Gilbert Melendez and “El Nino” plans on delivering for as long as is needed. The current lightweight champion is one of the few shining stars to not have been signed away to the UFC. While Melendez would like nothing more than to compete inside the Octagon, he understands why Zuffa wants him in Strikeforce.

As a result, instead of preparing for the likes of UFC lightweight title-holder Benson Henderson or even a former champ such as Frankie Edgar, Melendez will train for a third meeting with Josh Thomson on May 19 on Showtime.

“Money doesn’t really mean nothing at this point; my money’s good,” said Melendez, in a recent interview with MMAWeekly. “I’m happy with my money. If (Dana) White told me to come fight for the same price, I would do it. Either way, it’s inevitable. I’m coming for all the (1)55-pounders and I really want to prove I’m #1. Part of being #1 is beating everyone, every match-up. I think I can beat every style out there.”

As a frequent training partner of Jake Shields and Nick Diaz, Melendez knows he has the talent to fight in the UFC. For now, though, he’ll have to be patient and see what the big bosses decide to do.

Melendez’s bout with Thomson takes place on May 19 alongside the final of the organization’s heavyweight Grand Prix.


MMATraining Take: While most MMA fans would like nothing more than to see Melendez in the UFC, it does make sense to build him up as a huge star in Strikeforce. The lightweight division in the UFC is stacked, and I’m not saying Melendez couldn’t compete, but he is a big fish in a small pond in Strikeforce. The same might not be true in the UFC.