Coker Wants to Match Melendez Against Kawajiri

By Staff Jan 9, 2011
Gilbert Melendez | Dave Mandel/

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker wants lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez to defend his title next against Tatsuya Kawajiri.

“We’re definitely having that conversation,” Coker said Wednesday on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I’m going to try to work that out and get Kawajiri in there with Gilbert. I think that that’s a fight we’re interested in.”

Melendez outpointed Kawajiri in a December 2006 encounter in Pride. The Japanese fighter has lost just twice since, and last week he earned a unanimous decision over former Strikeforce lightweight champ Josh Thomson.

“I know that Kawajiri wants to come fight here in America,” Coker said. “We had some conversations [in Japan] before I left, and we’re going to continue right after the Nashville show this Friday.”

Kawajiri might want to come to the U.S., but Coker is also interested in going to Japan. The promoter wants to host a Strikeforce event there eventually.

“We’ve been talking to Dream for a long time about coming to Japan and doing a Dream-versus-Strikeforce type of event,” Coker said. “We’ve had conversations. There’s nothing set in that sense, but I sure think it’d be a lot of fun to go to Japan and throw a big Strikeforce event in Saitama Super Arena.”

Some of Strikeforce’s biggest names have had their biggest fights in Japan. Alistair Overeem, for instance, recently captured the K-1 World Grand Prix in Japan.

“What about Fedor’s popularity in Japan? He’s a superstar there,” Coker added. “He can’t even walk down the street. Japan on a lot of fronts would make a lot of sense, but there’s nothing final. There’s conversations, but I know this from working with those guys for all those years, everything moves a little slower over there.”
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