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Melendez could get Henderson chance

Brett Okamoto
December 28, 2012
Dana White talking to ESPN

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez might not have to wait long for a shot at UFC gold.

Melendez (21-2) will be a welcome addition to the UFC 155-pound roster, following what is to be the final Strikeforce event on January 12 in Oklahoma City.

UFC president Dana White called Melendez "the man" during an interview on Thursday with ESPN, and said as long as certain things fall into place, Melendez likely will challenge UFC champion Benson Henderson immediately.

"We'll see what happens; a lot of things have to happen before we even talk about this," White said. "But Gilbert Melendez is the one who deserves the title shot."

White added as impressed as he is with former Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez, a current free agent the UFC has its eye on, Melendez is more deserving of the title shot.

"Eddie Alvarez, I like him, but he's not even ranked in the Top 10," White said. "Gilbert Melendez is the man."

Strikeforce officials confirmed the promotion's fate in a press release earlier this month. Zuffa, parent company of the UFC, purchased Strikeforce in March 2011 and has endured a rocky relationship with its broadcasting partner, Showtime Network.

White, who initially spoke of a hands-on commitment with Strikeforce, eventually washed his hands of the promotion and now says he's excited to welcome its fighters into the UFC.

"What has happened to the fighters in Strikeforce is horrible," White said. "These guys have been very patient and I'm happy they are coming over to the UFC."

This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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