A bout between lightweight champions Gilbert Melendez and Shinya Aoki is locked for Strikeforce’s April 17 event at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn., confirmed a source with direct knowledge of the bout.
Josh Gross, of Sports Illustrated, was the first to report Monday of the matchup. Sherdog.com has confirmed independently that the bout has been signed.
Aoki, Sherdog.com’s No. 2 lightweight, and Melendez, ranked at No. 8, will vie for the latter’s Strikeforce 155-pound title. Aoki’s Dream title will not be up for grabs. If warranted, sources have indicated a rematch of the bout has been proposed to take place in Dream’s ring under their varied regulations at a later date.
Melendez-Aoki will be one of three championship bouts offered at the April 17 event, which will air live on CBS. Gegard Mousasi will defend his light heavyweight title against undefeated wrestler Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, while Jake Shields will meet two-division Pride titleholder Dan Henderson in a 185-pound championship match.
Melendez, who turns 27 on April 12, unified the promotion’s lightweight titles with a five-round “fight of the year” contender against Josh Thomson last December in San Jose, Calif.
The 26-year-old Aoki grasped the Dream lightweight championship with a second-round armbar against Joachim Hansen at Dream 11 last October. The flamboyant submission artist snapped Sengoku champion Mizuto Hirota’s arm with an unconventional hammerlock in only 77 seconds at K-1 “Dynamite” on New Year’s Eve in Saitama, Japan.