As Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez continues to not only compete against mid-level fighters but also rematch them multiple times, the clock on his career as an athlete continues to count down.
The 30 year old Californian is on a six fight winning streak and has an overall record of 20-2. He has knocked out 11 of his opponents. Statistics like those are difficult to complain about.
The question at hand is about the quality of his competition. I don’t question the legitimacy of his opponents in his recent past that have elevated him to the number two or three ranked lightweight in the world. In fact I support the credibility of those wins.
Despite his residence outside of the UFC, Melendez has managed to compete with almost every legitimate competitor that is also outside of the elite organization. Unfortunately for Melendez, this isn’t a very deep pool of fighters which is why Strikeforce has been forced to rematch him against multiple opponents.
He will fight Josh Thompson for the third time this Saturday at the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Final as the co-main event.
What Melendez should be concerned about is whether or not he can maintain this for an extended period of time. Yes, there are some credible lightweights outside of the UFC but Melendez has already extinguished most of those challengers in dominant fashion.
He claimed to not be leaving Strikeforce any time soon since he still has three more fights on his contract with the promotion.
The possibility of credible UFC fighters temporarily transplanting to Strikeforce to fight him was shot down since a move like that would be viewed as a demotion for the UFC elite.
Has Gilbert's level of competition plateaued?
I suggest that Zuffa sign Eddie Alvarez to Strikforce instead of the UFC since the line for that lightweight championship is abnormally long due to constant championship rematches being necessary. It wouldn’t be viewed as a step down for Alvarez but could be a stepping stone for his potential entrance into the UFC.
Melendez claims he isn’t stressing about it and it’s helping him to focus on getting better and having fun. But the trouble with this is that he isn’t able to consistently test himself against the best in the world who fight in the UFC.
Of course he is able to train with the Diaz Brothers who are unquestionably some of the top athletes in the sport but practice doesn’t compare to truly competing in the cage.
Although many MMA fans consider him to be possibly the best lightweight in the world, this can only be proven with dominance in the octagon. The longer Melendez has to wait to join the number one promotion, the more complacent his resume becomes.