Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Gilbert Melendez will have a chance to silence all his doubters when he fights for the belt in April.
The longtime Strikeforce lightweight champ finally...finally makes his debut in these UFC rankings. Finally.
But putting him at No. 3 probably won't make anybody happy.
Melendez's fans will point to his high-level MMA grappling, rooted in his lifetime of wrestling and further honed by his Brazilian jiu-jitsu training with the Cesar Gracie camp, fused together with the heavy hands he used to finish 11 fights. This is on top of his steely chin and solid submission defense.
Surely, all that warrants a higher rating, right?
Detractors will point out that the last time he faced a UFC-tested opponent was when he beat Clay Guida in 2006. While Josh Thomson, Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal are highly skilled mixed martial artists, none of them appears on this list—or even would, if they could.
How can you consider him a top-10, never mind a top-three, fighter when he has never faced a scary opponent?
Well, it's a tough call, but that call is now made. We know how advanced Melendez's talents are. The only question is if he can ply those skills against great opponents.
We'll see how good he is when he meets champion Benson Henderson in April.