Strikeforce Lightweight Champ Returns In May
Strikeforce lightweight champion is set to return to action on May 19, though an opponent has yet to be announced.
The promotion announced the event and the news on Melendez, who will fight in the main event of the card.
Melendez last fought last December against Jorge Masvidal, earning a fairly one-sided unanimous decision win. The victory was his sixth in a row, as he has not lost since June of 2008 when he was defeated by former champion Josh Thomson. Melendez would redeem himself against his rival in December of 2009, earning a unanimous decision and the 155 lb. Strikeforce title.
Talk of the rivalry resurfaced at "Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey" earlier this month, leading to speculation the Melendez and Thomson would complete their trilogy in late Spring or early Summer. Melendez joined Frank Shamrock, Mauro Ranallo, and Pat Miletich to call Thomson's fight against K.J. Noons cageside. Thomson earned a unanimous decision win, though the fight was hardly the exciting contest he and Noons predicted.
Throughout the three-round fight, Melendez was asked who he thought his next opponent would be, saying that either guy could earn the title shot. However, he was not direct in his responses, stating that there were several fighters that were in the title mix. Predicting the next opponent for Melendez became even more difficult after Thomson's post-fight interview. The contender, clearly disappointed in his performance, said to Ranallo, "It was (expletive). It was (expletive)." He went on to discuss how a staph infection hindered his training camp, while he also claimed that he tried something new for the eight-week preparation, though he plans to get back to his old training regiment for his next contest.
However, that contest will not likely be against Melendez, putting their trilogy off until late 2012 at the earliest. According to MiddleEasy.com, Melendez has been made aware of his next opponent, but did not disclose that information. Still, he made it clear that Thomson will likely not be the next in line, which does not come as a complete surprise considering the American Kickboxing Academy product's last fight and post-fight remarks.
The likelihood that Melendez and Thomson will not likely meet makes predicting his next challenger a bit difficult, considering how shallow the Strikeforce lightweight division is and the fact that Melendez has basically run through any and all challengers with ease. Pat Healy, who earned a submission victory at the March 3 event, is one name in the title mix, as he is on a four-fight winning streak, and Melendez mentioned him as a contender during the Showtime broadcast, impressed with his performance.
Heavy.com will reveal more information about Melendez's next fight and the May 19 event as a whole as it becomes available.