Did he ever.
"El Nino" smashed the veteran "Crusher" in the co-main event of Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Daley," the first Showtime event televised under the ownership of Zuffa, parent company of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
And with Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta cageside, Melendez made a strong argument for his consideration among the world's best lightweight fighters when he stopped Kawajiri in just over three minutes into the first round.
It was just the second time the former Shooto champion had been stopped in his 11+ year career.
After his triumphant performance, Melendez circled the cage, reiterating his belief that he's currently the world's best fighter at 155-pounds. And now that Strikeforce has joined the Zuffa family, he may finally get the chance to prove it.
"I know I'm not the UFC champion, but I've been around this sport a lot longer than Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard," said Melendez (via Las Vegas Review Journal). "If you look at the past and what I've accomplished, I've accomplished more. Not to take anything away from those guys. They're great fighters. I'm just trying represent my organization and my team. There are a lot of great guys, and part of being the champ is that you have to fight every style. Some match-ups are harder than others, and you still have to be able to fight and beat them. It doesn't really matter who, it's just kind of whoever has the strap."
Edgar (champion) and Maynard (number one contender) are expected to complete their trilogy at UFC 130 on May 28 in Las Vegas. The UFC's top lightweights battled to a draw in the main event of UFC 125 "Resolution" back on Jan. 1 and have to some extent held the division hostage while their feud plays out.
That means former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis was forced to take a dangerous bout against Clay Guida in June with the winner expected to get first dibs on the division gold later this year.
So where does that leave "El Nino?"
That, my good friends, is why you're here. Let's hear some options. Does Melendez remain in Strikeforce and continue to wade through its anemic 155-pound weight class? Or does he get the opportunity he's been looking for in the UFC?
Let's hear your play.
Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez should ...
Fight the winner of "Edgar vs. Maynard 3" and unify the straps. (238 votes)
Get in line. Anthony Pettis was here first and has to do some unifying of his own. (349 votes)
Keep fighting in Strikeforce where he belongs. Don't rob Jorge Gurgel of his shot. (33 votes)
Pipe down. You're the king of San Jose, not Las Vegas. (69 votes)
Crank call Eddie Alvarez, the Robinson Crusoe of the lightweight division. (59 votes)
748 total votes