Gilbert Melendez defended his Strikeforce lightweight title for the fourth consecutive time back on May 19, 2012 as he defeated Josh Thomson via split decision at the Strikeforce:Barnett vs. Cormier event which took place in San Jose, California.
The fight marked "El Nino's" ninth straight title fight and upped his win streak to seven.
Aside from retaining his 155-pound title, Melendez finally closed the books in a rivalry that dates back four years against Thomson. As the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter tells MMA Weekly, regardless of how close the third bout with "The Punk" was, he has no interest in a fourth fight:
"I have no interest right now, you know what I mean? Everyone was like, 'Let's close the book on this,' and we did. I won two out of three and it is what it is. People can be mad and people can say whatever, but it's over in my book. I am looking for new things, you never know what happens in the future. Maybe it's going to come around again, and if it does, so be it."
After longing for a move to the ranks of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Melendez eventually signed an extension with the San Jose based promotion after seeing the window of opportunity to jump over to the world's largest mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion close little by little.
Being one of the few remaining champions in Strikeforce has its advantages. Melendez is perhaps the face of Strikeforce and gets paid pretty well for his services, too.
There are disadvantages, however, and those always seem to be around the level of competition that can challenge for his title. With no clear cut number one contender to face, Gilbert says at this point, as long as he fights some "new blood," he doesn't really care who they throw at him.
Check it out:
"Pat (Healy) is a guy that is pretty deserving, it's just hard to say that I am fighting a top ten guy. I think he's a tough dude. The thing I like about him is that he is new blood. He is a different style and a different look for me and I get to work on different things and get to show skills in different areas. Just fighting new blood is exciting for me at this point. That would motivate me more than the last fight."
When asked if the possibility of facing former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez was of any interest, Melendez said he would absolutely jump at the chance to face a former champion, however, he is not so optimistic givin that his past pleas have fallen on deaf ears:
"Yeah, Eddie is someone that I have respected for a long time and I would definitely welcome that. But you know, as much as I try to get excited for these and try to make these things happen, right now, I am trying not to get involved in that. I really don't have that much say. I just let the promoters do it and hey, the power of the media, maybe you guys can help me out with that and the fans can make demands. But someone like Eddie would definitely interest me and definitely would motivate me. It's nothing I am going to try to push for or waist my time over, but anything would be cool. I am up for whomever right now. I want to stay busy and fight for my fans, fight for my team and fight for my family, so it doesn't matter who, I will take whoever right now."
For now, Melendez will keep playing the waiting game and hope that Zuffa can produce some fresh talent that he can contend with.
Anyone care to offer up any suggestions for the matchmakers over at Strikeforce?