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Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011

Strikeforce Champ Gilbert Melendez Happy To Fight The Man Who ‘Exposed’ KJ Noons

Strikeforce Lightweight Champ Gilbert Melendez (left) lands a right hand on Shinya Aoki during their April 17, 2010 championship fight. Photo credit: Esther Lin/Strikeforce

By Joshua Molina

Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is arguably the best 155 pound fighter in the world.  So news that his next title defense may be against Jorge Masdival, who is not a top 10 ranked fighter according to many independent ranking systems, may seem like a bit of a letdown for some fans.

But not for Melendez, who may face the 26-year-old Masvidal in December.

“I would love to fight the guy,” Melendez said. “He is a good contender. He is better than many of the guys who are ranked in the top 10 in the UFC.”

Masdival is coming off a brilliant performance where he dominated KJ Noons, stunning fans.

Melendez said he was not surprised that Masdival beat Noons by unanimous decision. Masdival, 22-6, is a well-rounded fighter, he said.

“I have always felt that KJ Noons would get exposed one day by someone who had all the tools,” Melendez said. “Someone like Nick (Diaz) just wanted to box him.”

Melendez said it may not make the most business sense to fight Masdival, in terms of big money fights, but that is okay with him.

“It would be a big achievement for me to beat Jorge Masdival,” Melendez said. “A lot of people who don’t understand fighting might not think it’s the best fight, but he is tougher than a lot of those guys in the UFC.”

Melendez, 19-2, has never been knocked out or submitted, and is on a five-fight winning streak.

Masvidal, a former street fighter from Miami, has won two in a row.  Prior to besting Noons, Masvidal, a product of American Top Team, earned a unanimous decision over a previously unbeaten Billy Evangelista at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson on March 5.

posted by FCF Staff @ 5:00 am
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