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Strikeforce Champion Calls out UFC Champion

Gilbert Melendez wants a UFC vs. Strikeforce unification matchAfter obliterating Tatsuya Kawajiri, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez claimed to be the #1 lightweight in the world and challenged Frankie Edgar to unify the UFC and Strikeforce titles. It appears that the first Strikeforce vs. UFC Super Fight may come sooner than we thought.

Gilbert Melendez has every right to brag. It only took Melendez 3:14 to destroy Tatsuya Kawajiri at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley. A one year layoff only looked to enhance an already great fighter as Melendez showed no signs of ring rust after the long time away from fighting. Melendez’s first round TKO was the first Round One win for Melendez in almost six years. He just keeps getting better.

Melendez’s remarkable performance quickly took a backseat in the headlines to Melendez’s comments following the fight. Melendez claimed to be the #1 lightweight in the world. Melendez then asked to finally unify the Strikeforce and UFC titles and called out Frankie Edgar. Now Melendez has made claims to being the top lightweight before, but it is a lot different now that Zuffa, LLC owns Strikeforce.

Melendez didn’t back off of those claims. In the post fight press conference Melendez reiterated, “I want whoever has the belt,” Melendez said. “I think there are a lot of great fighters in the UFC. It seems like two years ago the 205-pound weightclass the title changed hands like five times in 16 months. I kind of see the 155-pound weightclass like that. My boy Nate Diaz might beat Gray Maynard twice at 155, He could be the champ. Guida, I beat him. (Anthony) Pettis is a great fighter.”

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has talked a lot about Super Fights in the last few days of media interviews. Coker continues to say that he hopes to see them and believes they will come if the fans demand them. Dana White also continue to say that current fighter and broadcast contracts prohibit those fights from being made in the immediate future. Coker however disagrees and indicates that nothing in current contracts would prohibit these fights.

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I can’t imagine that Gilbert Melendez went rogue and threw out the challenge without the consent of his new boos. I hate to start talking about a fight that isn’t on the radar but I think this fight is closer than people think. Melendez has made these kinds of challenges to BJ Penn in the past when he was champion, which makes me think that Dana White, the Fertittas, and Scott Coker are using his history to start hyping their first super fight.

Next to Fedor Emelianenko, Melendez is arguably the biggest star in Strikeforce. Melendez has been with Strikeforce since the inaugural show and has had several show stealing fights. His wars with Josh Thomson are some of the most memorable fights in Strikeforce history. Melendez has risen to the top as lightweight champion and has arguably become the face of the company.

Frankie Edgar is already signed to defend the UFC lightweight title against Gray Maynard in a rematch at UFC 130 next month. If Edgar gets past Maynard I think we are just months away from seeing a Melendez vs. Edgar unification title fight. Maybe the UFC waits until the end of the year for the big New Year’s weekend event, but one way or the other I think either the next or fight after for the champions is against each other.

It appears that the biggest holdup of a super fight would be the Showtime contract, although again Coker doesn’t seem to think that it would stand in the way. If so, I think there are several solutions that could satisfy Showtime into allowing the fight. What if the UFC gives Showtime a UFC star for a Strikeforce show or a high profile UFC fight? Money also talks. I can’t believe that a serious negotiation won’t solve any contractual issues of making this fight happen.

Of all champion vs. champion fights this one is probably the best to make first. Edgar doesn’t have the star power of the other UFC champions. A fight like this and a win should make him a much bigger fan favorite. The fight would also profile Strikeforce’s most recognizable MMA champion and finally allow someone to capitalize on Melendez’s star power. A win for Melendez would theoretically make him one of the biggest UFC superstars overnight and at the end of the day whether it is a Strikeforce fighter winning or not, as long as Zuffa cashes in, that is all that matters to them.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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