Gilbert Melendez: Bendo Has to Beat Me to Be No. 1 Lightweight

Joe ChaconContributor IIIDecember 22, 2012

May 19, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Gilbert Melendez enters to fight Josh Thomson (not pictured) 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

One of the names we keep hearing from just about everyone when talking about the UFC Lightweight division is Gilbert Melendez.

Melendez, who still does not have an official deal with the UFC, does not appear to be impressed in the least bit with the work of current UFC Champion Benson Henderson over the last year.

"El Nino" spoke to MMA Weekly about his desire to face Henderson upon entering the UFC promotion:

Your eyes are always on the guy with the UFC strap. Your eyes were on Frankie Edgar for a long time, and B.J. (Penn) for a long time, and everyone needs to adapt for the champ, to figure out how to beat them. I think about it all the time with Benson (Henderson). If he wants to be undoubtedly No. 1, I think that would be a good victory for him to prove it or for me to prove otherwise. Another fight if I was in the UFC would be fine with me as well, but I'm ready now. The fire was lit a couple of weeks ago. Since the buzz has been out, the fire has been lit. I definitely feel that. I hope everyone would get as excited as I would be about that. In a perfect world. I'd love that fight with Benson, I really would. 

While Melendez does state his request to fight for the belt immediately, he also appears ready to accept a "title eliminator" fight to start off his UFC career.

Melendez and Henderson have very similar records. Melendez is 21-2 and Henderson is 18-2. The most fundamental difference comes from their offensive strategies. Melendez is more of a stand up striker, whereas Henderson loves to get the fight on the ground.

For now, it appears the next person to fight Henderson for the title will be the winner of Donald Cerrone and Anthony Pettis, although nothing has been confirmed.

Cerrone has won eight of his last nine fights but has lost to Henderson twice within the last 15 months. Pettis has won six of his last seven and is also the last person to beat Henderson.

Either way, the fans can't go wrong with either Cerrone, Pettis or Melendez fighting Henderson for the belt.


Joe Chacon is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.