There are arguably only four non-UFC fighters ranked in the top five of their division. 'Jacare' Souza, Shinya Aoki, Eddie Alvarez, and Gil Melendez. With the UFC’s acquisition of Strikeforce, Melendez is excited to eventually get a chance to face MMA;s top lightweights.
But it starts Saturday night, when 'El Nino' will defend his title in a rematch against Tatsuya Kawajiri in the Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Daley” co-main event.
“I think Kawajiri’s maintained (since the first fight in 2006, which Melendez won by unanimous decision). He’s strong, and I think he’s gonna try and use that on me,” Melendez says. “But I believe we’re in a little bit of a different situation. I’m a completely different fighter than I was three or four years ago. I don’t think he’s evolved as much as I have. I know he’ll want to put me on my back, mount me, and he’s strong in the clinch.”
“To be honest, I sat back and laughed a little bit (about the Strikeforce buyout). It’s funny, because I was renegotiating with Strikeforce and designed a deal with them. My other option was to sit out and go with the UFC. I was happy with Strikeforce and wanted them to show they were really serious, so I was happy with my decision."
“One of the things I was sad about was it’s hard to brand, market and get respect for yourself in Strikeforce. Now, I think I’m going to get the best of both worlds and have the marketing machine of Zuffa behind me. And I look forward to the bonuses. I feel like I’ve been a pretty well-kept secret to MMA fans. I’m not saying I’m gonna walk in and be champ, but I think I can get ‘Fight of the Night.’ I want to put on a show.”
(Non-UFC fighters) “seem to get respect from journalists and peers, but it’s a little frustrating with the common person -- Joe Schmoe at bars. The guy says, ‘Do you fight in the UFC? You’re No. 2 in the world? In the amateurs, right?’ Now I get a chance to prove myself.”
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Takaya Hiroyuki vs. Robert Peralta
Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm
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