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Schmoe didn't know: Gilbert Melendez coming to grab UFC 'Fight of the Night' bonuses


So, who exactly is Gilbert Melendez?

To most of the mixed martial arts community, he's a consensus top five lightweight and current Strikeforce 155-pound champion.

But to Joe Schmoe? He's an "amateur" because he doesn't fight for the UFC.

That'll eventually change now that Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, acquired the San Joe-based fight organization last month in a not-so-hostile takeover.

And "El Nino" plans on making the most of his newfound exposure when he eventually migrates to the cages of "Sin City."

Hoping to play spoiler is DREAM import Tatsuya Kawajiri, who challenges Melendez in the co-main event of this Saturday night's (April 9) telecast of Strikeforce: "Diaz vs. Daley" on Showtime.

First he must conquer "Crusher," then he can set his sights on "Schmoe."

"One of the things I was sad about was it’s hard to brand, market and get respect for yourself in Strikeforce," Melendez told "Now, I think I’m going to get the best of both worlds and have the marketing machine of Zuffa behind me. And I look forward to the bonuses. I feel like I’ve been a pretty well-kept secret to MMA fans. I’m not saying I’m gonna walk in and be champ, but I think I can get ‘Fight of the Night.’ I want to put on a show. [Non-UFC fighters] seem to get respect from journalists and peers, but it’s a little frustrating with the common person -- Joe Schmoe at bars. The guy says, ‘Do you fight in the UFC? You’re No. 2 in the world? In the amateurs, right?’ Now I get a chance to prove myself."

Melendez (18-2) first met Kawajiri under the Pride banner back in 2006.

"El Nino" was able to outwork his Japanese foe en route to a unanimous decision win prior to his return to Strikeforce at the Playboy mansion in 2007.

The Cesar Gracie-trained lightweight has unanimous decision losses to Mitsuhiro Ishida (2007) and Josh Thomson (2008) on an otherwise flawless fight resume.

And if he can go up 2-0 on Kawajiri, expect Joe and his bar-room Schmoes to hear more about Melendez in the very near future.

If you're Joe Silva, who gets the honor of welcoming him to the Octagon?

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