Gilbert Melendez: UFC Debut on Hold, Will Defend Title vs. Jorge Masvidal

John Heinis@HeinisHardNewsSenior Analyst IOctober 11, 2011

Fans will have to wait until 2012 to see Gilbert Melendez, the reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion, fight inside the Octagon.

At approximately 6 pm ET, the official Strikeforce Twitter account tweeted:

"Sorry to keep you waiting folks! @GilbertMelendez WILL be defending his title vs @GamebredFighter in San Diego on Dec. 17. Tix on sale Sat!"

In case it was unclear, the challenger for “El Nino” will be Jorge Masvidal, who goes by the nickname “Gamebred.”

Masvidal is coming off of two big Strikeforce wins over Billy Evangelista and KJ Noons; coming in as a big underdog in the latter fight and putting on an impressive performance.

The week of UFC 136, UFC President Dana White told the media that he wanted to see Melendez in the Octagon as soon as possible

After UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar’s fantastic finish of his arch-nemesis Gray Maynard in the main event, coupled with White’s comments, many speculated that a title unification bout between Edgar and Melendez was next.

However, it seems that White decided to let Melendez fulfill his Strikeforce obligations before utilizing his talents in the UFC. 

Melendez has gone 9-1 under the Strikeforce banner since 2006, defeating notables Clay Guida, Shinya Aoki, and Tatsuya Kawajiri, as well as avenging his loss to Josh Thompson.

Meanwhile, White has also pushed for a super-fight between Edgar and featherweight champion Jose Aldo recently.

However, with the depth at lightweight, combined with “The Answer’s” success at 155 pounds, an Edgar-Aldo showdown doesn’t appear likely anytime soon.