Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
Champion vs. Champion? It would have seemed virtually impossible a few months ago. But now we know that Strikeforce will soon be absorbed by UFC, which means "El Nino" has a chance to prove he's the best lightweight fighter in the world.
The question is, how do you beat Ben Henderson? It could prove to be a formidable task, based on his "Smooth" win over Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC on FOX 5 last Saturday night (Dec. 8, 2012) at the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington.
Melendez tells Bleacher Report he's that 'mystery fighter.'
"I want to fight Benson Henderson. I think a champion versus champion fight makes absolute sense right now. I think we already know how things are going to work out between Benson Henderson and a lot of other lightweight fighters in the UFC, but I'm that mystery fighter. No one really knows how I'm going to match up with anyone. I have been around for a long time and have been the top lightweight in the world before Benson or any of these other guys. I think I have a lot of answers for his style. Sometimes he fights a wrestler like Guida who doesn't have great hands, and sometimes he fights strikers who can't really wrestle. Look at his fights against 'Cowboy' Cerrone back in the day, or even Pettis. I have that wrestling pedigree where he ain't taking me down, and I'll be stuffing some shots. I'm not backing away, and I'll be dropping some bombs. I'm not an easy guy to stand with. I have a lot of power, and I'm not running away from kicks. I don't run away from anything. I hold my ground. I'll be coming for him, and anything he dishes out I'll be answering back twice as hard. I think everyone would be really excited for this match up, and I guarantee it would be a great fight. We can do it in the Octagon or the Strikeforce cage-it doesn't matter to me. Henderson is the fight I want, and let's make it happen."
Somewhere in St. Louis, Pat Healy weeps.
"Bam Bam" was supposed to get his shot at Melendez; however, the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu star was felled by a knee injury and forced to
run out the clock and wait for UFC to absorb him sit on the sidelines until he's healthy. In the interim, Healy will battle Jorge Masvidal at Strikeforce "Champions" on Jan. 12 in Oklahoma.
Based on their history, the general consensus seems to be that Anthony Pettis -- who defeated "Bendo" in the final title fight under the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) banner back in Dec. 2010 -- will be next in line for a crack at the crown if he can overcome Donald Cerrone next month in Chicago.
Anyone want to make a case for "Henderson vs. Melendez" instead?