Melendez is a two-time Strikeforce Lightweight Champion (Photo by Esther Lin, Strikeforce).
Lightweight Champion Signs Multi-Year Deal
Strikeforce has officially announced that Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez (18-2) has signed a multi-year deal to remain with the promotion for the foreseeable future. A two-time title holder under the Strikeforce banner, Melendez is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and is looking forward to returning to action.
“Strikeforce is my home. They’ve always been like family to me, and I’m looking forward to continuing my career with them,” Melendez remarked. “There are a lot of great fights out there for me, lots of challenges. I can’t wait to get back into the cage, do my thing and show the world that I’m still at the top of my game."
Melendez last fought in April of 2010, successfully defending his lightweight crown by defeating Shinya Aoki in Nashville, Tennessee. A professional Mixed Martial Artist since 2002, the California native won his first title in 2004 when he stopped Olaf Alfonso via TKO to become the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Lightweight Champion. After joining Strikeforce in March of 2006, he began to eye a second crown and quickly earned a title match with Clay Guida just three months later. After a hard fought battle with the Illinois resident, Melendez won by split decision and went on to make a successful title defense against Gabe Lemley in 2008. In his following fight, he suffered a unanimous decision loss to Josh Thomson, but he claimed the interim championship by knocking out Rodrigo Damm in his next bout, which was made after a leg injury for Thomson prevented him from being able to participate in a rematch. However, Melendez became the outright champion again in 2009 when he was able to defeat Thomson by unanimous decision in a unification fight.
While negotiations on his new contract were ongoing, Melendez had not been able to compete for any other shows, while Strikeforce was also unable to book him for any matches without a long-term deal. With everything now in place, Melendez is anxious to return to the cage.
“I’m healthy again and excited about fighting again real soon," Melendez said. “It doesn’t matter who I fight. I just want to get back in there and rip."
While his next fight is not booked, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has been reported as wanting Melendez to face Tatsuya Kawajir, who currently fights for Japanese promotion DREAM.