UFC Tried To Book B.J. Penn Against Strikeforce Champ Gilbert Melendez

Sometimes the rumors, no matter how vociferously denied. are true. A few months back there was a little bit of commotion to the effect that Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez wanted to face one of the top names from the UFC, someone like B.J. Penn.

And Melendez certainly has a right to call out anyone in the Lightweight division. He's currently the #3 ranked LW in the world according to the USA TODAY/MMA Nation Consensus Rankings. He's cleaned out the Strikeforce 155lb division.

At the time UFC president Dana White had to shoot those rumors down. Now the truth can be told. Dana wanted to book Melendez vs. B.J. Penn but couldn't talk the mercurial Penn into taking the fight.

Instead Melendez will face Josh Thomson for the third time. He lost to Thomson in 2008 but won a rematch in 2009.

More after the jump...


More Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier coverage from SBN

White spoke to MMA Junkie and here's what he said:


"I tried to do [Melendez vs. Penn], but it was at the time when B.J. was like, 'Yeah, I'm not fighting for a while.'"

It's good to know that White is at least trying to secure better opponents for Melendez and presumably the other Strikeforce champions. It's not clear what exactly is the issue, but it is clear that the alliance between Showtime and the Zuffa-owned Strikeforce is not working for the fighters under contract to Strikeforce.

Penn has indicated he might be interested in fighting at 170lbs again soon. I would love to see Penn fight for the vacant Strikeforce title against Tyron Woodley, Kazuo Misaki or even Paul Daley.

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