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Tag: Gilbert Melendez

Ben Henderson to Defend Lightweight Title Against Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 7 in April


(Photo via Esther Lin for Strikeforce)

Update: The booking has been confirmed.

According to a new report from MMAFighting that cites “sources with knowledge of the situation,” reigning UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will attempt to make his third title-defense against longtime Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 7, which is slated to go down April 20th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

Henderson is coming off arguably the most impressive win of his career, dominating Gilbert’s homey Nate Diaz for five rounds in their meeting last month at UFC on FOX 5. It was the sixth-consecutive win for “Smooth” since he migrated to the UFC from the WEC, though Henderson has yet to score a stoppage victory in the Octagon. That’s not likely to change against Melendez, who has never been knocked out or submitted in 23 professional fights.

Melendez picked up his seventh-straight win in May 2012, winning a split-decision in a rubber match against Josh Thompson. Since then, the Cesar Gracie product has been sidelined by injury after injury. And though we were skeptical of Melendez’s latest withdrawal — the Cesar Gracie fighter had much more to lose from a fight against Pat Healy at Strikeforce’s final event than he stood to gain, and may have acted accordingly — it’s clear that his devious plan worked.

But before you go booking your travel plans, MMAFighting adds this caveat:

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Gilbert Melendez to “Probably” Receive an Immediate UFC Title Shot When Strikeforce Finally Dies


(And there was much rejoicing…)

If any of you were questioning Gilbert Melendez’s decision to remain off Strikeforce’s final card in January, maybe now you can see his motivation. In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, Dana White revealed that “El Nino” would “probably” receive an immediate title shot when he makes the trip over to the UFC, a statement that will more than likely be responsible for hundreds of conspiracy theories regarding the legitimacy of Melendez’s recent injuries. Of course, this came just before The Baldfather lamented about how bad Strikeforce fighters have had it since the UFC absorbed the promotion (presumably while mimicking Shooter McGavin), so perhaps we should take his statement with a grain of salt:

(Melendez will) probably come right in and get a title shot. Again, we’ll see.

What has happened to the fighters in Strikeforce is horrible. The way this thing went down is horrible, and they’ve been very patient. What’s happened over there has been completely s—ty.

Right, and we’re sure Hitler felt awfully bad about the living conditions at Auschwitz as well. “No veigh? Zey don’t even get a nice cot to szleep on? Zose bastards!” We’re not comparing Dana White to Hitler, we’re just saying.

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Gilbert Melendez Makes His Case for a ‘Champion vs. Champion’ Fight Against Benson Henderson


(Melendez slugs Shinya Aoki in the head, back when slugging Shinya Aoki in the head actually meant something. / Photo via Esther Lin)

Though he’s still recovering from the nagging shoulder injury that pulled him off of Strikeforce’s possibly-final event (and led to the straight-up cancellation of their previous card) Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez knows exactly what he wants to do when he’s healthy again — roll the dice against UFC champ Ben Henderson. The Cesar Gracie product, who just saw his homeboy Nate Diaz get run over by Bendo last weekend, pleaded his case in a new interview with BleacherReport, running down all the reasons why he should get the next crack at Henderson:

I think a champion versus champion fight makes absolute sense right now. I think we already know how things are going to work out between Benson Henderson and a lot of other lightweight fighters in the UFC, but I’m that mystery fighter. No one really knows how I’m going to matchup with anyone. I have been around for a long time and have been the top lightweight in the world before Benson or any of these other guys.

I think I have a lot of answers for his style. Sometimes he fights a wrestler like Guida who doesn’t have great hands, and sometimes he fights strikers who can’t really wrestle. Look at his fights against “Cowboy” Cerrone back in the day, or even Pettis. I have that wrestling pedigree where he ain’t taking me down, and I’ll be stuffing some shots. I’m not backing away, and I’ll be dropping some bombs. I’m not an easy guy to stand with. I have a lot of power, and I’m not running away from kicks. I don’t run away from anything. I hold my ground. I’ll be coming for him, and anything he dishes out I’ll be answering back twice as hard.”

Later in the interview, Melendez discussed how the reports of Strikeforce’s impending demise — and the coronation of Ronda Rousey as the UFC’s first women’s champion — actually got him excited about the future again, since Melendez could finally get the opportunity to fight some of the best lightweights in the world:

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With Gil Melendez Hurt, Pat Healy Draws Jorge Masvidal for Strikeforce: Eh, Fuck It

Before we get into the Pat Healy/Jorge Masvidal booking –which we’re sure will rustle your jimmies to no end — we’d like to discuss the actual name Strikeforce has decided upon for its final event and how it more or less serves as a euphemism for Strikeforce as a company over the past couple years. Champions. They named the event Champions. It made sense originally, with nearly every one of their belts being on the line, meaningless as they were. But one groundbreaking signing and a slew of injuries later, and Strikeforce’s final card — their swan song, their dying epilogue, the culmination of years of blood, sweat, and tears — will die a vapid, depleted shell of what it once was. Like Layne Staley.

Two of our title fights have been canceled. Daniel Cormier is fighting a complete wild card and it isn’t even for the title. Is Nate Marquardt defending his newly earned welterweight title against Tarec Saffiedine? Who the hell cares; one of them is going down in the next week and you can mark my words on that. We may like to have our fun at Strikeforce’s expense around here, but they deserved better than this. They gave us Gina Carano in a towel damn it. They gave us this gif of Ronda Rousey. Not to mention all of the less sexual, fight-related stuff they gave us, like Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley, Scott Smith’s epic comebacks, and the God damned Nashville Brawl.

And now, they’ve been drained dry. Scott Coker had a milkshake, and Dana White had a milkshake and a straw, and Dana drank Coker’s milkshake.

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Gil Melendez Injured/Realizes It Would be Pointless to Fight Again in Strikeforce, Will Not Fight on January Card

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gil Melendez‘ coach Cesar Gracie recently told Tatame that his fighter is still injured, not “training hard,” and will not fight on what many assume will be Strikeforce’s final event in January. “I think he never recovered from the shoulder injury and will not be able to fight in January,” Google Translator tells us that Gracie told the Portuguese outlet.

Melendez already pulled out of a no-win title defense against Pat Healy and, though we have no doubt he is still battling injury, has to also realize that other than the purse he’d get for fighting, he would be risking far more than he might gain by fighting one last time in the doomed organization. If Strikeforce is dissolved while Melendez is the champion he will almost certainly, at long last, be brought into the UFC fold.

Should he lose, he might still be brought over but if he is, he would be worth far less and would probably have a longer route to a UFC title shot. As Strikeforce champion, Gilbert could always make a claim for an immediate or close-to-immediate title shot under the “let’s unify this thing” type of argument made most recently and successfully by his teammate Nick Diaz.

We’ve loved Strikeforce for a long time but if it is going to continue to hobble along like this, we can only hope that the UFC figures out a way to shut them down and absorb the fighters asap.

- Elias Cepeda

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September 29th Strikeforce Card Canceled After Gilbert Melendez Suffers Training Injury


(Welcome, gentlemen. We’ve been waiting for you.)

For the second consecutive month, Zuffa has canceled an event on very short notice due to one of the headliners pulling out with an injury. As confirmed in a press release on UFC.com, Gilbert Melendez suffered an injury in training, and was forced to withdraw from his lightweight title fight against Pat Healy at this Saturday’s Strikeforce show in Sacramento. As a result, the 9/29 card has been scratched altogether.

As with UFC 151, the relative weakness of the “Melendez vs. Healy” supporting card was surely a factor in the event’s cancelation. But what makes this situation unique is that Showtime essentially made the decision, not Strikeforce. From the press release:

Without the Melendez-Healy title bout, SHOWTIME®, which determines which fights are televised on the premium network, decided that it would not air Saturday’s scheduled event.

“When SHOWTIME informed us that it would not be airing the event, we made the difficult decision to cancel Saturday’s card in Sacramento,” STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker said. “Without a television partner, we simply could not move forward with this event. We wish Gilbert a speedy recovery and will work diligently and quickly to reschedule the fighters affected by this news on upcoming cards.”

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Gilbert Melendez Finally Booked to Fight Someone Other Than Josh Thompson on September 29th


(And to think, if I hadn’t accidentally called Dana “Baldfather” during that interview, I’d be fighting Ben Henderson right about now.) 

When we first heard word that Strikeforce was considering booking a completely unnecessary fourth match between lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thompson, we more or less saw it as a sign that Strikeforce’s lightweight division, not unlike their heavyweight, welterweight, and pretty much every other division, was simply biding its time until the UFC inevitably absorbed it. We were elated to find out shortly thereafter that Thompson was making the whole thing up, possibly under the belief that if the rumor gained enough steam, Scott Coker would sit idly by and let the match happen again and again until Thompson finally emerged victorious.

Fortunately, someone had good enough sense to book Melendez a fight against top contender Pat Healy on September 29th instead, which will make for Melendez’s fifth title defense should he be successful. Although Healy can’t hold a candle to Thompson as far as turning in exciting performances goes (Thompson’s snoozer against K.J. Noons outstanding), it will be nice to see Melendez finally face off against the only other lightweight in the division who stands at least a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating him.

More details after the jump. 

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Oh, For God’s Sake: Strikeforce Considering a Fourth Match Between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson [UPDATED]


(Come on. I know gay Irish couples who get into less scraps less than these two. Photo via Sherdog.)

Update: Apparently, Josh Thomson was just making shit up. Nice try, buddy. Melendez vs. Healy is possible, but it’s not confirmed as of yet.

In May, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez took a unanimous decision in his rubber-match against Josh Thomson at “Barnett vs. Cormier,” settling their rivalry once and for all — OR DID IT?? Due to the relative lack of big-name challengers in the Strikeforce lightweight division and the promotion’s total lack of imagination, Strikeforce is actually considering a re-re-rematch between these two. Yaaaaaaay.

According to Thomson on an appearance on MMAJunkie.com Radio on Friday, Strikeforce plans to offer Melendez a fourth fight against him. Said the Punk: “From my understanding, they’re going to offer him the rematch, and if it doesn’t happen, it’s not because of me. I just want everyone to understand that.”

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“Strikeforce: Barnett vs Cormier” Aftermath: Tournament Alternate Cormier Takes the HWGP

Mauro haters, hit mute now. Actually, everyone hit mute and read what I say about the fights below. (Video: YouTube/ShoSports)

Bruised and battered. Cut and bloodied. Josh Barnett’s face wasn’t one of a man who got out-wrestled last night. Olympic-level or not, wrestling doesn’t leave you looking like you put your head through a meat grinder. Don’t get me wrong, he did get out-wrestled last night, he just got out-struck as well. He got out-everythinged, if you want to get technical.

It didn’t have to be that way, of course. A lot of men would have wilted earlier–much earlier–in the onslaught of Daniel Cormier’s attack. But Barnett never thought of taking the easy way out, and today his face testifies to the evolving game of Cormier. The AKA product showed great versatility in his striking, staggering Barnett with heavy hands, head kicks, and knees. His combinations come fast, hard, and often, which explains why his hand surgeon is on retainer (yeah, he broke his hand again last night). When he did grab hold of “The War Master”, his grappling pedigree shone as well. He sent Barnett stumbling across the cage from the clinch and dolled out single-leg frequent flier miles, at one point flipping the former UFC champion in the air before slamming him to the mat.

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Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier — Live Results & Commentary


(The time for talking is over. The time for looking into a camera and screaming has just begun. Photo via Esther Lin/SHO Sports.)

If you had told me 16 months ago that the Strikeforce 2011-2012 Heavyweight Grand Prix would conclude with an unheralded reserve-fighter ending up in the finals, and tournament favorite Alistair Overeem nowhere to be seen due to promotional poaching and a subsequent drug-test scandal, I would have said “Yeah, that sounds about right, actually.”

The good news is, Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier is a hell of a matchup — a classic generational battle between a battle-tested old veteran and a hungry up-and-comer. (As it turns out, Barnett is only like a year-and-a-half older than Cormier, but work with me here.) Also on the main card: Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson fight for Strikeforce’s lightweight title for the third time, while light-heavyweights Mike Kyle and Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante throw down in a rematch of their own.

Handling the play-by-play for the tonight’s Showtime broadcast of Strikforce: Barnett vs. Cormier is our own Elias Cepeda, who will be posting live results after the jump starting at 10 p.m. ET. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and let us know how you feel in the comments section. You ready for war? Because guys, we are always ready for war.

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