Gilbert Melendez is Strikeforce’s lightweight champion and now he’s taking on Benson Henderson for his UFC lightweight Championship title.
Melendez has been put on the world’s best at 155 pounds list for awhile now and his division’s second ranked talent is not keeping him happy. He wants to prove that he really is number one. To do that he needs to go to the UFC and now he’s got his chance to show everyone how much he wants to be number one. April 20th Melendez wills square up with Benson Henderson at UFC on FX 7 in San Jose, California.
Melendez is even thinking about himself being the Strikeforce’s lightweight champion. All he wants is Henson’s lightweight title and it’s up for grabs. Melendez is no longer on top when he enters that cage, he’s a challenger.
“Champion versus champion is a neat thing for me, but I feel like in this case that Benson is the champ, and I’m coming into a new organization. I fought the Dream champ and the Shooto champ — I’ve fought a lot of different champs under different rules, so this is a neat opportunity for me. I’m definitely prepared. For a long time, I’ve been trying to prove that I am No. 1, and this is my opportunity. I’m [going to try] to take advantage of it.”
Now Melendez was there for the first time a member of the Gracie Fight Team (Nate Diaz) took on Henderson. Back in December 2012, Nate tried his luck and it didn’t turn out the way he wanted.
“Of course I would love to avenge my friend and represent for my team. I got to see firsthand what Benson is all about. I would love to get that [win] for myself and for my teammate,” said Melendez. “When your buddy is fighting, you can’t help but get a little emotional and a little passionate. If you can back your friend up, you will.”
With being the latest of the title contenders coming out of the Cesar Gracie camp you would think Melendez would have some extra pressure on his back with this fight.
“I hope to win the title for my team, but I really try not to put too much pressure on myself. I just go out there to fight my fight,” said Melendez. “I think it’s a great accomplishment for my whole team to even get title fights. Not many teams can say that. If anything, it’s an accomplishment for our team, but I would like to be able bring that title back to the gym and share it with those guys.”
But that doesn’t look to be the case. How do you think Melendez will do against Henderson? Let us know in the comments!