Strikeforce Results: 5 Fights We'd Love to See Gilbert Melendez in Next
Gilbert Melendez - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
For the first time in a long time, Gilbert Melendez found himself in a fight on Saturday night.
In the co-main event of Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier, Melendez escaped with the lightweight title after a controversial split decision win over longtime nemesis Josh "The Punk" Thomson.
The bout served as an eye-opener for some who believed that Melendez was the No. 1 lightweight in the world.
After the fight, Melendez even admitted that his performance pushed him down the ranks in some people's eyes. He saw the entire bout as a "lose-lose" situation.
"I'm in a lose-lose situation against Josh. Look, even though I won, I still lost," Melendez said in his post-fight interview with Strikeforce commentator Mauro Ranallo.
While Thomson is unquestionably a solid lightweight, he doesn't make the cut in most top-10 rankings. To put it bluntly, top UFC lightweights are competing against significantly tougher opposition.
Until the UFC signs Melendez, fans will never know how "El Nino" stacks up against the best in the world.
Here are five fights we'd love to see him in next.
Jim Miller - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
Out of all the bouts on this list, a fight between Melendez and Jim Miller makes the most sense.
Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely Miller goes to Strikeforce to challenge Melendez. Can you blame him?
Why leave the mecca of MMA for an opportunity to reign in mediocrity?
Frankie Edgar - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
During Frankie Edgar's run as UFC champion, people constantly talked about the possibility of him fighting Melendez for an undisputed lightweight title.
With Nate Diaz waiting in the wings for the next shot at UFC gold, this would be a great fight for the UFC to make should Edgar lose in his rematch with Henderson.
Gray Maynard - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
When it comes to the lightweight rankings, some pundits still rank Gray Maynard over Melendez.
A fight against Maynard would be an excellent entry bout for Melendez into the UFC. It would give him the opportunity to cement his place as an upper-echelon contender and put the doubters to rest.
Benson Henderson - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
When it comes to putting together a big fight, a champion versus champion matchup always seems to do the trick.
If Benson Henderson manages to get past Frankie Edgar at UFC 150, an undisputed title bout against Melendez could be an option the UFC explores.
The chances are rather slim considering Nate Diaz has already been named the next No. 1 contender.
With that said, though, things in the UFC can change on the fly. Depending on performances and marquee matchups, contenders sometimes find a way to jump other contenders.
Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson - Kyle Terada/US PRESSWIRE
The rubber match is already in the books, and Melendez bested the series.
With that said, no fan of the sport wants to see a fight end the way Melendez and Thomson's did on Saturday night.
Melendez seems to be stuck in Strikeforce for the remainder of his contract.
Unless the UFC sends some of its own lightweight talent to the San Jose-based promotion, there really isn't any other relevant opponent left. A fourth bout between Melendez and Thomson has to happen if the current circumstances remain.