Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez seemed a shoo-in to get drafted to the UFC when Zuffa initially purchased Strikeforce and begin siphoning talent, yet he appears this weekend against Jorge Masvidal to defend his Strikeforce belt.
He’ll do so with an eye still on a potential future on the sport’s biggest stage, but with respect for his opponent’s ability to pull off a well-timed upset.
“He has a certain style that I haven’t seen in the Octagon in front of an audience. It’s something I’ve seen in the room a lot, something I’ve trained for a lot. You’ve got to take every fight as the toughest fight of your life. You’re only as good as your last fight in this sport. So, yeah, right now he’s the toughest fight of my life,” El Niño recently told FightHubTV. “I think he has everything to gain and I have everything to lose in this fight. That makes it better for him and it makes it worse for me. This is where I’m supposed to choke. I’m the main event now, all eyes are on me, everyone’s interviewing me this time – this is where I’m supposed to choke. So, I use this as motivation and I look forward to this.”
With the recent news that Strikeforce has extended its contract with Showtime and all fighters currently on the promotion’s roster will be remaining there for the foreseeable future, Melendez can’t be quite sure what his future holds. As long as he’s fighting top-tier competition and getting compensated fairly though, he doesn’t appear to mind all that much.
“Only time will tell with that and after I take care of business here I’ll ask a lot more questions,” he said of his future. “I have faith in Strikeforce, I have faith in Showtime. They gave me Aoki when he was number two in the world, they gave me a great fight this weekend, they’re making me a main event. Life is too short to be whining and crying right now. Dana White, I think, made it clear that he’s going to make it worth our while. As long as they give me an opportunity to test myself and give me the opportunity to prove that I’m possibly the number one fighter in the world, then I’ll be happy.”
Melendez and Masvidal will square off tomorrow night at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal, which takes place at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. FightLine will be back tomorrow with live, ongoing coverage of the event.