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Melendez unlikely to enter the UFC for two years

ESPN staff
May 13, 2012
Gilbert Melendez has not lost for four years © Getty Images

Gilbert Melendez concedes he will not be making a switch to the UFC anytime soon because he plans to see out his contract with Strikeforce.

Melendez is one of the top lightweights in the world, maybe even the best, but he stands no chance of proving that to be correct while he stays under the Strikeforce banner. He has won his last six fights and is viewed as a worthy challenger to UFC champion Ben Henderson, a fight that would prove a big seller for MMA fans.

However, as he prepares to fight Josh Thomson - the last man to beat him - on May 19, Melendez warned people not to expect him to move to the UFC after his next bout. He still has another three fights left on his contract and expects to honour them.

"I'm going to be with Strikeforce for a while, or at least until my contract is up," Melendez told Heavy.com.

"I have this fight plus three more, and I respect that."

The likes of BJ Penn and Anthony Pettis have been linked to Melendez, but Penn recently confirmed what the MMA community already knew: fighters do not see it as a good career move to switch from the UFC to Strikeforce.

"I think the common fan still hears my name and says, 'Who the hell is that?" Melendez said. "The common fan doesn't know who I am because they don't follow Strikeforce the way they follow the UFC.

"I wish some of these guys in the UFC would take the risk. At the end of the day I understand the business moves. I'm sure their managers tell them fighting me in Strikeforce isn't the best business move, and I understand."

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