Gilbert Melendez: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Talk of a co-promotional bout between Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez has amplified since Alvarez’s win last week over Roger Huerta.
At the postfight news conference, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said there were no barriers to making the fight except for Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. Alvarez said Coker is trying to “protect” Melendez.
That may or may not be true, but the strong words warranted headlines regardless. Melendez is just fine with the attention the potential matchup is getting.
“I think we’re getting warmer. You guys are talking about it. Everyone’s talking about it,” Melendez said Wednesday during a “Savage Dog Show” interview on the Sherdog Radio Network. “Someone’s going to get backed into a corner. We’re going to figure out why it’s not happening eventually, and that person’s probably going to be cornered in and they’re probably going to have to give in. Because everyone seems like they’re up for it. Bjorn, Scott, Eddie and I. So there’s something going on where we can’t come to an agreement. I think eventually it’s going to come out, and with media and everyone talking about it, I think we’re getting a lot closer and a lot warmer.”
Coker has cited Strikeforce’s television deal with Showtime and Bellator’s deals with Fox Sports Net and NBC (late at night) as a major issue. Rebney dismissed TV as a problem last week, but Coker has suggested other barriers while also saying he’s interested in exploring the possibility of the fight.
“Obviously Strikeforce is the bigger promotion than Bellator,” Melendez said. “That could be it. That does seem like it. I’m not sure if it’s [Coker] or what, but I know Scott has co-promoted before. I think if things make sense, it can work out. But yeah, you tell me [what’s preventing the fight]. If you know something I don’t know, let me know.”
Melendez is Sherdog.com’s No. 2-ranked lightweight in the world, behind only UFC champion Frankie Edgar. With UFC co-promotion off the table, the next highest ranked lightweight Melendez could fight is Shinya Aoki, whom he already beat in April. Then there’s Alvarez, ranked No. 6, and firmly in the mix of the best 155-pounders in the world.
Melendez believes a win over Alvarez could earn him the top ranking.
“It would mean the world to me,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal, to be number one in the world at 155. If I get there, I’ll be very happy. I’ve been working hard and I want to beat all these big names. Eddie Alvarez is one of them. I’m technically ranked above him in the rankings and I still want to fight the guy because I know he’s a tougher matchup. I’m not going to heel hook him in one minute like Shinya Aoki. I know that’s not what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a battle, it’s going to be a war. I’m not OK with just having the journalists put me number two. I really want to prove it myself. I want to beat the one through 10 on my own. I really want to beat them all.”
Without a matchup against Alvarez, Melendez doesn’t see a way he can become the No. 1 lightweight while fighting in Strikeforce.
“If I’m still with Strikeforce, I think that fight does need to happen,” Melendez said. “The only other way is if I move on and somehow I’m in the UFC fighting out there. If I beat Josh Thomson again, if I beat Shinya again, it’s not really going to do nothing for my status or to make my spot go up. … That’s why I want this fight.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:30:05) with Melendez, who also discusses the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt he recently earned from Cesar Gracie and what it was like training with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.