Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce
Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez has recently been the subject of much speculation regarding how much longer he would remain with that organization. UFC president Dana White recently said that he wanted to bring him over to the UFC, but he was still booked in a title defense against Jorge Masvidal at a Strikeforce event on December 17th in San Diego. Gil's coach Cesar Gracie made it clear to Tatame that he's going to the UFC after that fight though:
"Absolutely it’ll be his last fight (in Strikeforce)", assures the coach, who didn’t have any doubts about Melendez’s situation on the lightweight division of Ultimate, which title holder is Frankie Edgar. "I believe Melendez is the best of the world in this division".
This isn't exactly shocking news to anyone, but it's the first time that Gracie has made such a definitive statement about it. Gracie also talked about how he actually didn't want Melendez to take the fight with Masvidal:
"It’s a very dangerous fight. Melendez has nothing to win, there’s the problem," Cesar said. "I didn’t want him to do it. I believe he’s gonna win, he’s a better fighter, but in any fight you can either win or lose and it’s not different this time. Melendez has everything to lose and nothing to gain. He needs to fight the top fighters. Masvidal sometimes is good, but sometimes he loses to some guys nobody knows".
Cesar's speaking the truth here. A loss to Masvidal would kill a lot of Gil's cred coming into the UFC. Was Melendez smart to take one last title defense in Strikeforce? I wonder if he was even given much choice in the matter.