In fact, he expressed this to me while walking the streets of Nashville last year, the day before he disposed of Dream Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki.
Judging by his record and the list of men he has defeated, Melendez has a valid claim to the lightweight throne.
After dispatching Tatsuya Kawajiri for the second time this past Saturday night, in an utterly dominant fashion, Melendez very confidently called for a unification bout, now that Zuffa owns both Strikeforce and the UFC.
If you compare the men Melendez has defeated to that of some of the lightweights in the UFC, the fact remains his record speaks for itself.
He has deteated Aoki, Kawajiri (2X), Josh Thomson, Mitsuhiro Ishida and Clay Guida. He has defeated the only two men to have beaten him—Thomson and Ishida—in a fashion that showed he is a better fighter than both his aforementioned rivals and can face them in the future with confidence.
What Dana White, Joe Silva and company decide to do with Melendez is anyone's guess. Featuring Melendez in the Octagon is increasingly looking like the best option.
Let's take a look at five bouts that would make sense for the man who has run steamrolled over the Strikeforce Lightweight Division.