Benson Henderson's Manager Feels Gilbert Melendez Bout Is the Fight to Make

Joe ChaconContributor IIIJanuary 14, 2013

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

The current UFC Lightweight Champion is a very happy man nowadays. Benson Henderson (18-2), fresh off of signing an eight-fight deal with the promotion, now believes he has a clear-cut purpose for his career.

Shortly after the extension was signed, Henderson reflected upon the deal on his Instagram account.

I'm very excited to let you guys know that Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta aren't tired of me yet...proud to announce that I just signed my new contract which will keep me around for at least 8 more fights...This deal made me think long term & what it all means & what I'm here for...Am I really doing all this just to buy stuff & pay my bills??? Or do I have this platform/stage for something more??? I hope I can use these few years to really inspire, introduce, encourage & do some of His will...I hope I can do all this with my actions & not just my words...

Henderson, widely known for being a man of strong faith, looks poised to use his newfound celebratory status to spread a message that he believes is much more important than the sport.

One of the most requested fights currently being clamored for by fans is that of a matchup between Henderson and Gilbert Melendez (21-2).

Henderson's manager, Malki Kawa, recently spoke with MMAJunkie with regard to Melendez being given a quick shot at the title.

We really like the Gilbert Melendez fight, and I'll tell you why: Gilbert Melendez has been ranked either No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 between himself, Frankie Edgar and Benson. Frankie was considered No. 1 in the world, and Benson beat him. Now some people are saying Gilbert might be No. 1 in the world. OK, well Benson would like to beat him, too, and leave no doubt that he is the best 155-pounder in the world.

If a fight with Melendez doesn't materialize during the first half of 2013, the most likely names to fight for the belt would be the winner of Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis (January 26) or Eddie Alvarez (should he find a way to get to the UFC).

Even with other names in the picture, Kawa made it clear they would prefer to go straight to Melendez.

Depending on whose poll you look at over the past few years, it's been those guys in the top three spots, and Benson definitely wants to fight the best guys in the world. He's already defeated Frankie. Beating Gilbert would prove that Benson is absolutely the best lightweight in MMA.

The pulse I get from MMA fans is that they'd also love to see Henderson and Melendez fight sooner rather than later. If it were up to the Henderson camp, that's exactly what we'd get.


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