Gilbert Melendez wants to ‘avenge' his ‘homie' Nate Diaz by defeating UFC champ Benson Henderson

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is on his way to the UFC. And when he gets there, "El Nino" wants a piece of UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, who is coming off a five-round thrashing of Melendez's teammate Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 5 last month.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will be on his way to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) sooner than later.

The question is: who is the Team Cesar Gracie product going to face in his Octagon debut?

Does Melendez fight another contender for a position in the 155-pound pecking order, does he immediately fight in a No. 1 contenders bout, or, in an option UFC President Dana White said is very possible, does Melendez get a shot at UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in his first fight under the UFC banner?

All options are possible, but if it was up to Melendez, he would fight Henderson, a man who holds the biggest prize in the sport and just last month put a five-round beat down on Melendez's good friend and teammate, Nate Diaz.

Melendez talked about the situation in a recent interview with Middle Easy, giving credit to Henderson as a competitor, but saying he wants "a piece" of the champion and the chance to get redemption for Diaz.

Here's what "El Nino" had to say:

"Benson is an amazing fighter, tough guy. Initially I wasn't too impressed with his WEC days, but as soon he made his first appearance in the UFC, in I think Toronto, Canada against Bocek, I was really impressed. I've seen him improving ever fight since. He is an impressive guy, but I match up very well with him, and I think I can beat him. You're hurt because your buddy lost, and I feel like Nate (Diaz) didn't perform his best. He had some things going on. Benson did pop him in the eye. You want to whip the dudes ass, you want to beat him up. You want to avenge your team, avenge your homie, but much respect to the guy. Nothing personal, but you want a piece of him."

Melendez's next move is unknown at this time. The 30-year-old was scheduled to defend his Strikeforce belt against Pat Healy at the organization's final show on Jan. 12, 2013, but a shoulder injury forced Melendez off the card.

The Californian is said to be nearing 100 percent recovery from the injury and whether he fights Henderson or another opponent the next time he steps in the cage, details on his next move should become available in the coming weeks.

Do you think Melendez deserves an immediate shot at Henderson's UFC lightweight belt? Or is the winner of Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" on Jan. 26, 2013, more deserving of the opportunity?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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