Gilbert Melendez's UFC debut may come against lightweight champ Ben Henderson.
It looks like a UFC title unification might be waiting in the wings. MMAFighting.com is reporting that UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson's next title defense will be against final Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20 in San Jose, Calif.
Benson Henderson is reigning lightweight champ and most recently beat The Ultimate Fighter 5 winner Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5. Diaz and Melendez are teammates, both training under Cesar Gracie.
Melendez has long been a favorite for fans of fighters outside the UFC, and sports an impressive 21-2 record fighting for the WEC, Shooto, Pride and, most notably, Strikeforce.
Melendez long been ranked among the best at 155 pounds, but has never fought in the UFC, which has left many wondering how he would fare against top-ranked fighters from the last five years like BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson.
UFC on Fox 7 is scheduled to take place at HP Pavilion in San Jose. That venue was home to many Strikeforce events over the years, and Melendez himself has fought there eight times. Melendez was born and raised in Southern California, making this a homestate fight for him.
The centerpieces of the UFC's TV deal with Fox had been struggling ratings-wise through 2012.
While the initial event, headlined by a heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos drew numbers, it has been steadily downhill since. UFC on Fox 5 bucked that trend, averaging 4.4 million viewers and peaking at 5.7 million during Henderson's fight with Diaz.
While there are still some hoops to jump through for the UFC in organizing this event, promotional brass is betting on lightning striking twice by booking Henderson to headline another event.
Keep checking Bleacher Report for official confirmation of these reports.