Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will be defending his belt at least once more under the Strikeforce banner, as he will face Jorge Masvidal for the title later this year. The news comes from Melendez's trainer Cesar Gracie, who told MMA Fighting that Strikeforce is putting the fight together.
This will be Melendez's third title defense since defeating Josh Thomson for the undisputed championship in late 2009. Melendez is now on a five fight win streak, with big wins over Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri among others, and has moved into the top 5 of the stacked Lightweight division. Masvidal comes in off the biggest win of his career over KJ Noons, but will be the underdog to Melendez.
There are a few interesting notes from this announcement. First off, no Strikeforce shows are scheduled past the Challengers event on September 23. Could this be part of the yet to be scheduled Grand Prix finals? Second, there has been talk of a possible Melendez move to the UFC to follow his teammate Nick Diaz, but this obviously delays that move.
With much speculation about the future of Strikeforce, and with both their Heavyweight and Welterweight divisions currently without a champion, it's good to see Melendez still receiving a tough challenge.
Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (19-2)
Win - Tatsuya Kawajiri - TKO (punches) Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley
Win - Shinya Aoki - Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Nashville
Win - Josh Thomson - Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Evolution
Jorge Masvidal (22-6)
Win - KJ Noons - Decision (Unanimous) Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum
Win - Billy Evangelista - Decision (Unanimous) Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson
Loss - Paul Daley - Decision (Unanimous) Shark Fights 13