Gilbert Melendez has solidified himself as one of the top lightweights in the world by taking on and defeating a host of threatening 155-pound opponents across some of the biggest stages in MMA. Having competed in PRIDE, WEC, Shooto, and Strikeforce (where he currently holds the lightweight title), “El Niño” has racked up an overall record of 18-2 including victories over the likes of Shinya Aoki, Josh Thomson, Clay Guida, and Mitsuhiro Ishida; to name a few. Given that he is currently rumored to next face either Aoki in a rematch or Thomson in a rubber match (and with a dream bout against Eddie Alvarez seeming more and more unlikely), Melendez’s pool of fresh competition is looking relatively shallow these days. Couple this with the fact that his Cesar Gracie teammate Jake Shields recently ditched his Strikeforce title to compete in the UFC and the obvious question becomes: when will Gilbert Melendez step into the Octagon seeking new challenges?
MMAWeekly caught up with “El Niño” recently and pitched him the query.
“It’s something on my mind. It’s not so much the UFC as it is the fighters out there,” Melendez said. “I think I’ve taken out most of the guys outside of the UFC. … The guys I’d like to fight in the UFC are obviously Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard, Kenny Florian, BJ Penn, those are all the guys I’d like to fight out there. So, yeah, it’s definitely on my mind. … Whatever makes the most sense with business.”
How do you think Melendez would fare against the UFC’s best? Which UFC fighters would you most like to see him take on? Let us know in the comments section.