Melendez makes move to UFC

Melendez makes move to UFC
January 15, 2013, 3:30 pm
Nitesh Dutt

Nitesh Dutt
CSNBayArea.com 

The announcement MMA fans have been waiting for is now official. April 20th in San Jose will officially be headlined by a pair of Nor Cal fighters.

UFC on Fox 7 will pair Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion Daniel Cormier taking on Frank Mir in the co-main event. The main event will be Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez making his long-awaited octagon debut and taking on UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson in a title bout. 

American Kickboxing Academy’s Cormier called out Mir after his most recent victory over Dion Staring at Strikeforce’s final event. It is believed that Cormier will take this fight at heavyweight and then drop down to light heavyweight, but he now has the bout he’s wanted for months. The two were originally set to face off in November, but that was scrapped due to an injury sustained by Mir.

In the night’s main event, San Francisco’s Melendez will be making his long-awaited move to the UFC. After a decorated career in Strikeforce, Melendez makes the jump in competition and surpasses other lightweights for an automatic title shot. Melendez is no stranger to the limelight as he has fought in several title bouts all over the world.  

This will be Melendez's first-ever bout in the UFC and his first fight since defeating AKA's Josh Thomson last May. Henderson most recently defeated Gil's friend and training partner Nate Diaz. 

The announcement comes on the heels of Strikeforce's final event, which Gil had been slated for but pulled out due to a lingering shoulder injury. Finally healed, and facing another top-5 lightweight, Gil is determined to show the UFC fans what he's capable of. 

Cormier and Melendez have been considered two of the most dangerous fighters Strikeforce had to offer, but with the buyout, their jump to the UFC was imminent. They will both look to shake up the UFC --  it will all begin on April 20 in San Jose.

Tickets for the event go on sale February 15.

Nitesh Dutt is a Production Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter: @NiteshDutt.