Strikeforce: Gilbert Melendez 'campaigning for number one' ranking in the world

Photo via Strikeforce.com

Now that Zuffa has purchased Strikeforce and changed the entire landscape of MMA, certain fighters that feel they deserve to be ranked among the best are likely to get their opportunity to prove just that.

One of those fighters is Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez.

"El Nino" takes on Tatsuya Kawajiri tonight (April 9, 2011) in San Diego at the "Diaz vs. Daley" event and that's the first step the Cesar Gracie product plans on taking in his quest to attain the coveted number one ranking in the 155-pound division.

Melendez currently sits at number three in the USA Today/SB Nation consensus rankings.

But with all the campaigning the California native has been doing, it's unquestionably put added pressure on him headed into tonight's showdown with "Crusher." Gil tells Sherdog, though, that he's ready to walk the walk to back up his big talk:

"Now it's on me. I've been doing a lot of talking and campaigning that I'm number one. Now if I deliver, if I put on some shows, not only win but entertain and reach out to all my fans, I think the sky's the limit. I willingly put this extra pressure on myself. I'm the type of guy who was raised to do his talking in the cage ... but sometimes in this business you have to do some talking outside to get heard. I'm trying to do my talking without being obnoxious, but I really feel like I am the number one guy. I'm going to campaign it. I'm going to put the pressure on myself and try to walk the walk."

The pressure won't just be coming from within; with the UFC buyout, it's an entirely new ballgame when it comes to fight promotion.

The marketing muscle the world's largest promotion brings to the table is substantial and it's helped to put an added spotlight on tonight's event, one of the better cards in Strikeforce's young history.

In the co-main event, Melendez will attempt to retain his lightweight championship in a rematch of a tough scrap he had with Kawajiri back in PRIDE, which he won via unanimous decision. 

Can he repeat that performance tonight and solidify his place on the 155-pound ladder?

Predictions, please.

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