(Melendez – and his hair – in need of an opponent.)
— Strikeforce lightweight title-holder Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez was supposed to fight Jorge Masvidal at the Strikeforce/EliteXC March 29th event – but the fight has been cancelled due to a shin injury Masvidal received during “Strikeforce at the Dome” in Washington. The injury came in a fight against Ryan Healy, which Masvidal won by decision. A replacement could be named soon to battle Melendez since he is one of the top fighters on the card. Middleweight champ Frank Shamrock will put his title on the line against Cung Le in the highly-anticipated main event.
Melendez is 13-1, snapping a 13-fight win streak and picking up his first loss at “Yarennoka!” on New Year’s Eve. He lost via decision to PRIDE vet Mitsuhiro Ishida. The lightweight has seen success almost everywhere he’s fought, including Strikeforce, PRIDE, WEC, and ROTR. El Niño’s ex-opponent, Masvidal, has seen recent success in Strikeforce and BodogFIGHT and boasts wins over dudes like Joe Lauzon and Yves Edwards.
— We reported the surprising retirement of welterweight star Paul “Semtex” Daley earlier this week. The out-of-nowhere announcement was posted on Cage Warriors’ message board. While speculation to Daley’s retirement at age 25 ranged from him being bored with the sport to a ploy to pull in a huge payday from the highest bidder, it’s still unclear to why he would do this or if it was just a hoax. Sherdog was able to reach FX-3 promoter Paul James, who confirmed Daley would be giving up his EliteXC position after he fulfills his contract on March 29th. And in a text message exchange with Daley, they say the fighter refused to talk about the decision because he didn’t want to make a big deal of it. Well, it is a big deal to us when a star athlete who could dominate their division decides to drop it all.
Regardless, Daley did leave open the possibility of a return in his original post by writing: “Once I’ve found the path I originally set out on in the Martial Arts, I may return to this SPORT.” Cryptic, to say the least. EliteXC Veep Jared Shaw is planning on meeting with Daley in London when he’s there for the Cage Rage March 8th event. The organization was apparently left out of the decision. We’ll see what comes out of this wine-n-dine in London, but Daley seems he’s made up his mind for now.
– PIRDE vet Mark Hunt has signed with K-1, but he won’t be fighting in the company’s DREAM venture at first. He’ll instead be facing Semmy Schilt in a super heavyweight title match at K-1 Yokohama on April 13th. The 5-3 Hunt’s last MMA fight was in PRIDE on New Year’s Eve 2006. He lost via Kimura to some guy named Fedor Emelianenko. That was his second loss in a row, losing six months before to Josh Barnett – also by Kimura. Call me crazy, but perhaps a Kimura Defense class is in order. Anyway, let’s hope Hunt gets over into DREAM soon. (Props to BloodyElbow for the spot.)