Strikeforce's Gilbert Melendez Belongs in the UFC
Last night, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez defended his title for a third time when he bested Jorge Masvidal in a near five-round rout.
Though "Gamebred" is a touted striker, Melendez got the better of Masvidal early, tagging him with his double jab and crushing right.
The American Top Team product came on strong in the fifth and final round, though the fight was all but a cinched for Melendez, who took home the decision victory with scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.
With the win, Melendez has placed himself far and above all in the 155-pound class of Strikeforce.
Notables Josh Thomson, Shinya Aoki, Rodrigo Damm, Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri and now Masvidal have all succumbed to defeat opposite of Melendez and are likely the only big-name opponents that the Cesar Gracie fighter will take on, so long as he remains in the San Jose based promotion.
Melendez has succumbed to two losses in his entire 22-fight career, avenging both in impressive fashion.
Now that Strikeforce has become a subsidiary of Zuffa, many of the organization's top talents have ventured off into the "big leagues" of mixed martial arts in the UFC, with Nick Diaz, Cung Le, Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem making the octagon their new homes for the foreseeable future.
So long as Melendez remains in Strikeforce, only battles with budding no-name contenders will be all he has look forward to.
Though the prospect of bringing UFC notables into the fray would be appealing, they would hardly be the catalysts to the upward momentum that Melendez seeks at this point of his career, considering the fact that the Californian is well regarded as a top-three lightweight talent.
Only when Melendez ventures into the octagon will he finally garner the kind of respect he deserves, and the longer he remains on the fringes, the more he will draw up comparisons to that of fighters that may not be UFC-worthy, given the lack of big name talent he will be pitted to face in the near future.
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