Nate Diaz couldn’t even give Benson Henderson a challenge.
Is Melendez the best fit to fight Henderson next?
After abusing Diaz and defeating Frankie Edgar twice, the number of lightweight UFC fighters who are talented enough to compete with Henderson is thinning. That’s why Dana White should reach out to Strikeforce fighter Gilbert Melendez to be Henderson’s next opponent.
Nate Diaz’s trainer Cesar Gracie approved a Henderson vs. Melendez showdown and said after Saturday night’s fight when asked about the potential matchup (via MMA Fighting):
I think that's the fight they should make. 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 definitely has the resume to warrant a title shot.
He’s won seven straight fights, his last loss coming in 2008 against Josh Thompson, who he’s beaten twice since then—one by unanimous decision.
Josh Gross of ESPN said that Melendez would give Henderson a much more competitive fight than Diaz, writing “Melendez is physical. He wrestles hard. Punches hard. Clinches hard. Everything about Melendez is intense.”
When discussing the potential of a Henderson vs. Melendez bout, it isn’t a matter of if the two mixed martial artists should fight, but when. They are the two best lightweight fighters alive and it’d be a shame if they didn’t go toe-to-toe next year.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.