Gil Melendez: Ben Henderson has to beat me to prove he's No. 1 lightweight

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

With his UFC debut on the horizon, the Strikeforce 155 lb. champion has some words for the UFC champ.

Last week, Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez made waves when he called out the division's #1 fighter and UFC champ Ben Henderson. Melendez made a point of saying he had the answers to counter Ben's style. As the top fighter outside the UFC, Gil has been trying to stake his claim to a title shot when he's brought over in 2013.

To that end, Melendez told MMA Weekly that Henderson needs this fight to prove he's the number 1 lightweight:

Your eyes are always on the guy with the UFC strap. Your eyes were on Frankie Edgar for a long time, and B.J. (Penn) for a long time, and everyone needs to adapt for the champ, to figure out how to beat them. I think about it all the time with Benson (Henderson). If he wants to be undoubtedly No. 1, I think that would be a good victory for him to prove it or for me to prove otherwise. Another fight if I was in the UFC would be fine with me as well, but I'm ready now. The fire was lit a couple of weeks ago. Since the buzz has been out, the fire has been lit. I definitely feel that. I hope everyone would get as excited as I would be about that. In a perfect world. I'd love that fight with Benson, I really would.

Ben is coming off a dominant decision victory of Gil's teammate Nate Diaz at UFC On Fox 5. He performed so well in that fight that Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre thanked him for making the blueprint to beat a Diaz brother. His next challenger has not been announced, but it's widely suspected that it will be the winner of Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis at UFC On Fox 6.

Melendez is coming off a close split decision over Josh Thomson back in May. He was supposed to fight Pat Healy at Strikeforce's final event coming up on January 12. However, the same injury that kept him from fighting Healy in September didn't heal in time and the bout was dropped.

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