Gilbert Melendez is quickly looking like a big fish in an incredibly small pond.
Strikeforce’s top-ranked lightweight has long been considered one of the best fighters outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship – The Cesar Gracie product defeated fan-favorite Clay Guida to win Strikeforces top crown at lightweight in 2006.
He would go on to capture it for a second time in 2009 and has shown no signs giving it up since with three-straight title defenses against top-ranked fighters Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal.
Last March when the game-changing news broke that Zuffa, LLC, the parent company to the UFC had purchased Strikeforce most assumed that Melendez would be swimming in UFC waters before we knew it.
Over a year later and Melendez and middleweight star Luke Rockhold are the only male champions that haven’t been absorbed into the big show as the San Jose-based organization is seemingly on life support.
These two were left in the Zuffa sister-organization because a new deal was reached with Showtime for Strikeforce to broadcast through 2012.
Today MMAJunkie.com broke the news that Melendez will be completing his trilogy with American Kickboxing Academy standout Josh Thomson, an announcement that didn’t set the world on fire.
Thomson handed Melendez his first and last defeat under the Strikeforce banner in 2008 – They would face off again 18 months later and Melendez was a different fighter, he put a world-class beating on Thompson on the feet and dominated the twenty-five minute affair to stake a claim at being one of the best 155-pounders in the world.
Now there is little interest in a third go-around between these two, not matter how entertaining their last two fights were.
That’s not to say that Thomson is a bad fighter because he’s not. Thomson is a talented lightweight with an impressive resume and a world of experience but he’s only given this opportunity because there are no other options contracted to Strikeforce.
Melendez was rallying for one of the top dogs at 155-pounds to come over and test their skills against Melendez in the hexagonal-cage suggesting scraps with Jim Miller or former two-divisional champ BJ Penn but plans of that fell through.
Dana White has always preached that that he wants all the best fighters in the world to be in the UFC, until Melendez crosses over he doesn’t.
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