Cesar Gracie Says Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez Is the Fight to Make

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IDecember 9, 2012

May 19, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Gilbert Melendez (left) fights Josh Thomson (right) during the lightweight bout of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix at HP Pavilion.  Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

After Nate Diaz was thoroughly dominated by UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5, one would expect Cesar Gracie to be pretty disappointed.

However, Diaz's head coach remained in generally good spirits in a post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani, mainly because one of his fighters still has a chance to go toe-to-toe with "Bendo:" Gilbert Melendez. 

"I think that's the fight they should make," Gracie said about a possible Melendez vs. Henderson title bout. "Obviously it's not up to me ... Gilbert's the champ over there, he's been in Strikeforce forever, and that would be a great fight. He's beaten the guys: he's beaten the Clay Guidas and all these other guys and he's a tough guy. I'll tell you: that would be a scrap. He's kind of like a Ben Henderson with that scrappy, fighter style ... I think it would be a really good fight." 

Melendez first fought in Strikeforce in back in March 2006, defeating Harris Sarmiento, before winning the title from Guida in June of the same year. 

"El Nino" is currently riding a seven-fight win streak and most recently won a rubber match with old rival Josh Thompson back in May. 

The California native was scheduled to defend his Strikeforce gold one more time before the brand folds, but a shoulder injury forced him out of a bout with Pat Healy in September, and he was unable to get healthy for the card in January

Meanwhile, Henderson is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC, though he has yet to get a finish inside the Octagon. "Smooth" hasn't lost since his "Fight of the Year" performance against Anthony Pettis on the final WEC card in Dec. 2010.

Would Melendez vs. Henderson be a competitive affair, or would the reigning champion run though another Cesar Gracie student with ease?