Although Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez (Pictured) was hoping to transition to the UFC if he reigned supreme this weekend against Jorge Masvidal, it appears UFC president Dana White may opt to keep “El Niño” in the minor leagues.
“Gilbert Melendez and all the guys that are in the Strikeforce show and with Showtime, I will make fights [for them],” White stated following Saturday’s UFC 140 post-fight press conference. “They will be happy to be there. Believe me, I got this thing worked out.
“It’s going to be good for everybody. It’s going to be good for the fighters, it’s going to be good for Showtime and it’s going to be good for Strikeforce. Trust me, I got this.”
Melendez, who is widely (if not unanimously) considered to be the world’s best 155-pounder not competing in the UFC, was hoping to get promoted this weekend by posting another convincing victory. However, it seems White has other plans now that he’s spearheading Strikeforce.
“The guys that are in Strikeforce are staying in Strikeforce,” White added. “Strikeforce lives.”
Last Thursday, White claimed Strikeforce was dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on an extension with Showtime. A new broadcast deal with the premium cable network could be finalized as early as today.
Now that White is controlling both of Zuffa, LLC’s mixed martial arts companies, many were curious if some co-promoted shows could be on the horizon. White quickly killed that chatter.
“Strikeforce is completely separate [from the UFC],” he flatly stated.
Furthermore, White already has more than enough to worry about. Of Strikeforce’s five men’s titles, only the lightweight (Melendez) and middleweight (Luke Rockhold) belts currently have owners.
Nick Diaz (welterweight), Dan Henderson (light heavyweight) and Alistair Overeem (heavyweight) all abandoned their crowns and transferred to the UFC for various contractual reasons.