Both Edgar and Gilbert Melendez can battle back-and-forth for the top spot, as the coveted No. 1 slot is interchangeable between the two lightweight notables.
After abandoning the featherweight class in 2005, Melendez made a commitment to higher pastures when he deftly defeated UFC vet Clay Guida after five rounds of action, which earned him the vacant Strikeforce title.
Soon after, Melendez would earn infamy in the division when he earned a contentious decision over powerhouse Tatsuya Kawajiri under the Pride banner.
Undefeated, Melendez was riding on wave of confidence; however, losses to Mitsuhiro Ishida and Josh Thomson—who dethroned “El Nino” for the belt—brought Melendez back down to reality. Melendez quickly regrouped with a knockout victory over Sengoku vet Rodrigo Damm.
The win over the Brazilian earned Melendez his rematch with Ishida and the Santa Ana native made the most of his opportunity when he throttled the Japanese fighter in the third, claiming the TKO.
With the decisive finish of his formidable foe, Melendez challenged the returning Thomson for the lightweight title. In a fan friendly battle, Melendez edged “The Punk” on points, thanks to his heavy hands which wilted Thomson to the mat on several occasions.
In the end, Melendez regained his title and in the process avenged the last loss of his career.
Since then, the father of one defended his belt three times with decisive victories over Shinya Aoki, the aforementioned Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal, respectively.