The speculation has been that Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez would follow in the paths of fellow Strikeforce champions, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem, and transition over to the UFC for either an immediate title shot or a title-contender bout.
And that may still happen.
But first, Melendez (19-2) is slated to defend his title against top 155-pound Strikeforce contender Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal at San Diego’s Valley View Casino Center on Dec. 17. The bout was confirmed Wednesday via Strikeforce’s Twitter account (@Strikeforce).
The bout will mark Melendez’s third title defense since winning the Strikeforce lightweight championship for a second time with a unanimous decision win over Josh Thomson in Dec. 2009.
Masvidal (22-6), a 26-year-old American Top Team product from Miami, has earned his shot at Strikeforce gold by winning a unanimous decision over Billy Evangelista in March and then out-boxing K.J. Noons for another unanimous decision victory in June.
Melendez-Masvidal will headline the Showtime-televised fight card which also includes a light heavyweight bout between Ovince Saint Preux and Gegard Mousasi and a women’s 145-pound title fight between champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos and Hiroko Yamanaka.