Melendez, Masvidal Cleared for Strikeforce Title Bout

By Brian Knapp Dec 16, 2011

Jorge Masvidal stands at the foot of one of the lightweight division’s most intimidating mountains.

Masvidal tipped the scales at 155 pounds for his scheduled five-round showdown with champion Gilbert Melendez (155) in the Strikeforce “Melendez vs. Masvidal” main event on Saturday at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. The two combatants in the show’s other title bout, Strikeforce women’s featherweight champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (145) and once-beaten challenger Hiroko Yamanaka (145), also met their contracted weight requirements without issue at Friday’s official weigh-in.

Melendez will carry a five-fight winning streak into the bout. The 29-year-old Cesar Gracie disciple last appeared in April, when he needed a little more than three minutes to throttle respected Japanese standout Tatsuya Kawajiri with elbows. Melendez, who owns a 9-1 mark inside Strikeforce, has already avenged the only two defeats on his resume: a December 2007 decision loss to Mitsuhiro Ishida and a June 2008 setback to Josh Thomson. He has secured more than half (11) of his 19 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout. Wins over current UFC lightweight contender Clay Guida and reigning Dream champions Shinya Aoki and Hiroyuki Takaya strengthen Melendez’s case as one of the premier 155-pound fighters in the sport.

Spawned by the revered American Top Team camp, Masvidal has rattled off back-to-back wins. The 27-year-old Bellator Fighting Championships and Sengoku Raiden Championship veteran last fought in June, when he bludgeoned former EliteXC lightweight titleholder K.J. Noons en route to a unanimous decision at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Wins over former International Fight League lightweight champion Ryan Schultz, 2008 Sengoku lightweight grand prix winner Satoru Kitaoka, current ATT stablemate Yves Edwards and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 semifinalist Joe Lauzon anchor Masvidal’s resume. His last five bouts have reached the judges, two of them resulting in split verdicts.

Strikeforce “Melendez vs. Masvidal” -- which airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime -- will also feature a light heavyweight tilt pairing Gegard Mousasi (206) with Ovince St. Preux (206) and a lightweight duel pitting Noons (156) against Billy Evangelista (156).

Strikeforce “Melendez vs. Masvidal”
Saturday, Dec. 17
Valley View Casino Center
San Diego

Strikeforce Lightweight Championship
Gilbert Melendez (155) vs. Jorge Masvidal (155)

Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Championship
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos (145) vs. Hiroko Yamanaka (145)

Gegard Mousasi (206) vs. Ovince St. Preux (206)
K.J. Noons (156) vs. Billy Evangelista (156)
Justin Wilcox (156) vs. Caros Fodor (156)
Roger Bowling (170) vs. Jerron Peoples (*180.5)
Devin Cole (248) vs. Gabriel Salinas-Jones (265)
Fernando Gonzalez (186) vs. Eddie Mendez (186)
Herman Terrado (170.5) vs. Chris Brown (170)

* Peoples weighed in over the limit.

Be sure and take part in the Sherdog MMA Pick ’Em game, matching wits and expertise with readers from across the globe ahead of the final Strikeforce show of 2011.
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