UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will compete on his second straight Fox-televised card this coming April, and he will meet another Cesar Gracie-trained fighter. “Bendo” has signed to face former Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez on April 20 at UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez.
The card takes place in San Jose from the HP Pavilion. This past December, Henderson (18-2) successfully defended his title against Nate Diaz, who trains alongside Melendez at the California-based gym.
Melendez (21-2) will be making his Octagon debut, and return to action after several months off due to a training injury. “El Nino” was the final Strikeforce 155-pound champion, having held the title since 2009.
“Gilbert Melendez is one of the toughest fighters on the planet,” said Henderson, during a recent interview with MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve said over and over that I just want to fight the best in the world. I don’t care in what order I face them, but I want to fight the best in the biggest fights. He has been the Strikeforce lightweight champion, and is going to be real hungry in his first UFC fight.”
Melendez vaulted ahead of Henderson in the eyes of many atop the 155-pound rankings even though “Smooth” defeated Frankie Edgar twice in 2012. The opportunity to showcase his skills on network television, and against a viable top fighter, has Henderson excited beyond belief.
“It’s an honor to be put in this position by both the UFC and Fox executives,” Henderson said. “The fans can expect to see a lot of action from two fighters who have aggressive styles. It should be a fun night.”