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The Daily Line: Keeping Gilbert Melendez In Strikeforce Is A Mistake

I can tell you this. Gilbert Melendez is pumped to stay in Strikeforce. He’s one of the big stars in Strikeforce. If he wins the next fight and the next fight after that, he will continue to defend his belt in Strikeforce. He’s absolutely (expletive) excited about it. – UFC president Dana White

Really? So, you’re telling me that the guy who could barely contain his excitement at the prospect of joining the UFC roster back when the Zuffa/Strikeforce deal was initially announced, now all of a sudden wants to continue to compete in Strikeforce where it’s been established the top-tier talent no longer resides? Up until this announcement, Melendez has let it be known that he wants nothing more than to test himself against the best in the UFC’s lightweight division and become the UFC lightweight champion.

It’s hard to see the logic in keeping the consensus number two ranked lightweight in the world defending a second-rate belt, when the rest of the promotion’s highly-ranked champions have already been plucked up and transplanted to the UFC, where they’ve entered at or near the top of the division. Maybe they plan to build Strikeforce off of existing names like Melendez’s or Cris “Cyborg” Santos’ , but it hardly seems fair to decide that the oft-troublesome Nick Diaz and Alistair Overeem deserve their shots in the UFC, but Melendez doesn’t.

Add to that the fact that White flat out said all fighters currently on the Strikeforce roster (aside from the heavyweights) are to stay with Strikeforce, even in the immediate future, and I’m left scratching my head. Keeping Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy in Strikeforce when the UFC’s own middleweight division wouldn’t suffer from an injection of new talent is simply hard to comprehend.

The wizards at Zuffa seem to almost always be a step ahead, but depriving the fans of a Melendez vs. Edgar/Henderson title fight is a hard move to see the positives in at this juncture. Keeping Strikeforce alive as a feeder organization makes perfect sense, but holding back some of the world’s best to keep eyes on the brand just doesn’t.