Strikeforce today announced that there would indeed be a third title fight during the upcoming "Shamrock vs. Cung Le" event -- Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (13-1) will put his Strikeforce lightweight strap on the line against Gabe Lemley (11-6).
That means that the Strikeforce middleweight, lightweight and EliteXC welterweight titles will all be up for grabs at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, Calif., on March 29.
Melendez is a 25-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter who trains with the Diaz brothers under Cesar Gracie in California. He's one of the brightest young stars in the sport of mixed martial arts today.
Here are his thoughts on the bout:
""I'm looking forward to fighting in front of my home crowd. I've been training hard and I feel sharper than ever. 2008 is going to be a big year for Gilbert Melendez."
"El Nino" won the lightweight belt by beating UFC veteran Clay Guida via split decision in June 2006. He won the first 13 fights of his MMA career before losing a unanimous decision this past New Year's Eve to Mitsuhiro Ishida.
Along with Nick Diaz and Jake Shields, Melendez now makes three Cesar Gracie-trained fighters who will be competing in San Jose. It's clearly a very important night for their camp.
Lemley, on the other hand, is looking to extend his five-fight win streak and to capture his first major title. He started his professional MMA career off slowly, losing four of his first five fights.
However, since then he has really come into his own, defeating high-caliber fighters such Guida via first round submission (armbar).
This fight makes an already stacked card even more stacked. Three title fights and the addition of Nick Diaz is a recipe for success. This could be one of the best shows of the year ... and not just for Strikeforce and ProElite.