"El Nino" is rumored to defend his 155-pound Strikeforce title against Jorge Masvidal in December; however, it is still uncertain if that fight will go on as planned or if he will instead be blended into the UFC mix to battle its lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Melendez believes he has done enough to get the next shot at the UFC lightweight title. In addition, the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter believes that the only way to earn the respect he feels he deserves is to transition to the Octagon.
He said as much on a recent edition of the MMA Hour, expressing his desire to challenge "The Answer," as well as voicing his frustrations for not getting the proper credit as one of the best lightweight fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) today.
Check it out:
"I'm definitely impressed by Frankie. He's an amazing fighter. He's great, I honestly feel like I'm the number one contender and I feel like I'm ready for the title shot now. I've been focusing on Jorge Masvidal, he's the first guy in line. I think he's the No. 1 contender, as of now, in Strikeforce, and as of now I have to focus on that guy. He's real tough. But it's hard not to get excited when you hear all these rumors. The most frustrating thing is the recognition, a lot of people don't recognize me as a great fighter because I haven't beaten any UFC guys."
UFC President Dana White has yet to shine any conclusive light on who exactly will challenge Edgar after he emphatically (and finally) got rid of the ghost that has been haunting him since 2008 by viciously knocking out Gray Maynard this past weekend at UFC 136.
"El Nino" just wants to know where he stands:
"I just wanted to discuss my future with the organization; it looks like I have a good future. ... I just expressed that I want to fight the best. The UFC title is the best belt, I want that belt and I want it as soon as possible."
Following Melvin Gulliard’s stunning first round submission loss to Joe Lauzon this past weekend, the UFC contenders were whittled down to a select few, leaving Clay Guida and Ben Henderson as the top two lightweight candidates. The pair is scheduled to face off on the inaugural UFC on FOX 1 show on Nov. 12, 2011, which features UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez defending his title against Junior Dos Santos in the main event of the evening.
Has Melendez earned enough of your respect to deserve the next shot at Edgar’s title? Or should he wait his turn to see if either "Smooth" or "The Carpenter" can dethrone "The Answer"?