Ben Henderson may have defeated one Cesar Gracie-trained fighter in Nate Diaz, but he has to defeat another member of the famed camp if he truly wants to be the number one lightweight fighter in the world.
No, not Nick Diaz or Jake Shields, but Gilbert Melendez, who says "Smooth" must first get through him to 'prove' he is indeed the best mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter competing at 155 pounds.
The current Strikeforce lightweight champion told MMA Weekly he wants his chance to fight against Benson and says he wants fans to get as excited for the potential scrap as he is:
"Your eyes are always on the guy with the UFC strap. Your eyes were on Frankie Edgar for a long time, and B.J. (Penn) for a long time, and everyone needs to adapt for the champ, to figure out how to beat them. I think about it all the time with Benson (Henderson). If he wants to be undoubtedly No. 1, I think that would be a good victory for him to prove it or for me to prove otherwise. Another fight if I was in the UFC would be fine with me as well, but I'm ready now. The fire was lit a couple of weeks ago. Since the buzz has been out, the fire has been lit. I definitely feel that. I hope everyone would get as excited as I would be about that. In a perfect world. I'd love that fight with Benson, I really would."
The fire was indeed lit when "El Nino" proclaimed he had answers for Henderson's game a week ago.
The proclamation came shortly after Melendez witnessed firsthand the dominating performance Henderson turned in over his stablemate, Nate Diaz, at UFC on FOX 5 back on Dec. 8, 2012 in Seattle, Washington.
Gilbert has often been regarded as one of the elite 155-pounders in the world, however, many have failed to side with his status, citing strength of competition, seeing as how "El Nino" has yet to compete inside the UFC's Octagon.
Though the 10-year veteran has competed all over the world in promotions such as Strikeforce and PRIDE FC, many feel "El Nino" needs to prove himself under the bright lights of the UFC, before he can lay claim to being the best lightweight in the world over the likes of "Bendo."
He'll soon get his chance, and he wants to start against the very best.