Last night, Gilbert Melendez had a lot on his mind. The recent deal between Strikeforce and Showtime stripped away his chances of fighting in the UFC, and the man across the cage, Jorge Masvidal, was threatening to take away not only his title but also his ranking as one of the top lightweights in the world.
Luckily, Melendez was able to keep a calm head and keep his Strikeforce lightweight title.
Unfortunately he looked far from the top-ranked lightweight he has always claimed to be.
Despite winning all five rounds on two judges' scorecards and four on the others, Melendez didn't look terribly impressive last night. His stand-up has shown a lot of progression as he was able to stand and trade with a skilled striker in Masvidal, but he took a lot of punishment along the way.
And Masvidal isn't even ranked in the top 20.
Watching Melendez last night, it is clear that he is a good fighter but he is far from being one of the best in the world.
If Melendez were to transfer to the UFC right now, he'd struggle right out of the gate. The UFC's lightweight division is incredibly deep and filled with fighters who are all within inches of fighting for UFC gold.
Not to mention most of them are starving for the title.
While he may be disappointed by the Showtime deal and being locked into Strikeforce, it may actually turn out to be in Melendez's best interest. He is not ready for the UFC and he's certainly not ready to fight Frankie Edgar.
In Strikeforce he'll keep his top-ranked lightweight status without having to dive into the shark tank that is the UFC lightweight division, and he'll get the opportunity to polish his skills a little more before he makes the inevitable jump.
It's a consolation prize at the very least.
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