Gilbert Melendez deserves a UFC title shot! Or does he? He's the Strikeforce lightweight champion, he's won six MMA fights in a row, and he just defended his title on Saturday against Jorge Masvidal in the Strikeforce main event. Isn't that enough to earn a trip into the UFC octagon?
At first glance, that resume would make it very clear that Gilbert Melendez deserves to throw chingasos in a UFC lightweight title fight. But, if we look closer, those that feel Melendez deserves a shot in the UFC, might change their mind.
As MMA fans, we can't fool ourselves. We all need to understand that the UFC is in the business of making money through the entertainment value of MMA. The UFC wants great MMA fighters, but more importantly, they want entertaining fighters. Entertaining fighters create a buzz that sell tickets, PPV's, merchandise and make the UFC money.
One of the factors that makes an MMA fighter, or a fighter in any combat sport entertaining, is the ability to finish a fight. The UFC lightweight division is stacked at the moment. In order to break into that stack, an outsider will need to bring a high entertainment value. The entertainment value that the lightweight UFC division needs is a finisher! Is Gilbert Melendez a finisher?
Gilbert Melendez is a very good MMA fighter. His record and his climb up the Strikeforce ranks prove it. Winning the Strikeforce lightweight title and defending it proves it even more. But, he's had trouble finishing fights. Three of his last four fights have gone to the judges. He was dominating Jorge Masdival in his last fight, but the killer instinct seemed to be missing. To be honest, I was getting bored with the fight.
If Melendez has trouble finishing fights in Strikeforce, proving to Dana White and the UFC that he is entertaining and marketable enough be on a UFC pay per view fight card, will be a challenge. But, Melendez has the skill set to do more than grind out boring wins.
Melendez needs a big win, a big exciting win, a finish! That will add to his entertainment value, his marketability and it will stamp his ticket into the UFC and possibly a title shot. He has the skills! He just needs to take some risks. As we all know, big risks equal big rewards. Will Melendez do what's necessary to be considered an exciting fighter and find his way into the UFC? We will find out in 2012.