Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (14-2) made it clear at last weekend's "Strikeforce at the Mansion II" event that he has plans to win back the 155-pound title he lost to Josh Thomson back in June.
The loss to "The Punk" was only the second in a 16-fight career for the Cesar Gracie-trained standout. The other was to Japanese standout Mitsuhiro Ishida this past New Year's Eve.
As it turns out, Ishida now competes under the Strikeforce banner as well, giving Melendez the perfect opportunity to avenge the two losses.
But there's a problem ... "El Nino" only has one fight left on his current deal with the promotion and there have been rumors that suggest he might want to take the next step in his career and test the waters in the UFC.
Here's what Gilbert had to say about his future in a recent MMAWeekly.com interview:
"I have one fight left with Strikeforce. I really do like Strikeforce, I think they're a great organization and they took care of me, but I have other goals too, other dreams. I do want to get my payback against Josh and Ishida, but I'm just going to make sure I do really good on my next fight and then I'm going to weigh out all my options."
Those options clearly include the UFC by what he said next:
"There's a big chance. That's an organization I've always liked to be a part of and a lot of the guys in there I would want to fight. A lot of those guys motivate me. It's motivating to test yourself in front of the world. That's the most motivating thing about going to the UFC is that you really get to showcase yourself."
Regardless of what he decides to do, there are plenty of great fights out there for Gilbert Melendez. Whether he decides to stay in Strikeforce and play round robin with Thomson and Ishida for the next six months to a year, or he decides to make the move to the octagon, we as fans are all winners.
In the meantime, he'll still fulfill his obligations with Strikeforce, which call for him to compete one more time for the organization. No announcment has been made regarding a fight invloving "El Nino," but the company has an event planned for November 21, which may or may not feature the former champion.
Stay tuned for more on the developing story.