For now at least, the speculation about where and against whom Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez would next appear in action can be put to rest.
MMAFighting.com has learned from Melendez’s head trainer Cesar Gracie that El Niño will be putting his Strikeforce title on the line in his next fight, which will come against Jorge Masvidal.
There was much debate over whether or not Melendez would follow in his training partner Nick Diaz’s footsteps by vacating his Strikeforce title and challenging for the belt in the UFC. The 29-year-old has voiced a strong interest in making that move in the past, but any plans to do so in the immediate future are obviously to be put on hold.
Since losing a close and controversial decision to welterweight slugger Paul Daley in September of last year, Jorge Masvidal has put together a two-fight winning streak. He soundly defeated Billy Evangelista and then KJ Noons in a fight which many had pegged as the number one contender’s bout. Training with American Top Team in Miami, Florida, the 26-year-old sports a record of 22-6.
Gilbert Melendez has established himself as one of the world’s very best lightweights over the course of his career, but especially since he recaptured the Strikeforce title from Josh Thomson. Melendez has looked stellar in defending the belt against Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri, inspiring great confidence in his chances in the UFC. Melendez is 19-2 overall.
The bout does not yet have a date or venue, but is targeted to take place sometime this fall.