Gilbert Melendez: I can beat guys at welterweight, then drop to featherweight and be 'number one'

May 19, 2012; San Jose, CA, USA; Gilbert Melendez defeats Josh Thomson (not pictured) at the Strikeforce World Grand Prix at HP Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is often considered the best 155-pound fighter not fighting under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) banner.

"El Nino" hasn't lost a fight in three years and sports a 21-2 overall record. Of his 12 fights with the San Jose-based promotion, 10 of those have been title fights, winning nine of them. Pretty good numbers for any mixed martial artist, regardless if he's competed in the UFC or not.

As he attempts to defend his title for the seventh consecutive time coming up on Sept. 29, 2012 against Pat Healy, Melendez reflects on his tenure at lightweight and gives his thoughts on where exactly he feels he stands in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), as far as rankings go.

Not one lacking confidence, Gilbert declares he can pack on an extra 15 pounds and move up to welterweight and beat some guys there, as well as shedding an extra 10 pounds to drop to the featherweight division and be the 'number one' guy there, too.

He said as much at the recent Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Healy" press conference:

"I've been around for awhile, and I've done pretty good in the rankings. If you look at my history, I've beat a lot of guys, I've traveled oversees did some things, at one time I was No. 1 in the world at 145 and I went up to 155. I'm up there, I don't know exactly where I am. It used to be a bigger concern of mine, but not so much nowadays. But yeah, I feel like I'm up there. I feel like I could go up to 170 and beat some of those guys as well and if need be I can go back to '45 and be the number one guy as well."

Though it's long been a desire for the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter to make the jump over to the world's leading MMA organization to test his skills in the shark-infested waters of its 155-pound division, a move seems unlikely for the foreseeable future.

Should he ever make the change, he will have more than enough competition to back up his words that he can defeat guys in three weight classes. Division kingpins Georges St. Pierre, Carlos Condit, Ben Henderson, and Jose Aldo, would likely have something to say about that.

Any of you anxious to see Melendez inside the Octagon already? Before it's too late?

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