Cristano Marcello

Melendez to Defend Against Lemley


Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Gilbert Melendez will put his Strikeforce world lightweight title on the line against Gabe Lemley at the upcoming Elite Xtreme Combat and Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The promotion officially announced the bout earlier today.

It was originally reported that Melendez, who has been advertised as competing in DREAM’s upcoming lightweight grand prix, would not be fighting overseas and would in fact defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello instead. The news came from the mouth of Marcello himself.

However our friends at MMA Junkie reported yesterday, through Strikeforce vice-president Mike Afromowitz, that the fight was never signed and an official opponent for Melendez would be named shortly.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury.

Lemley, who holds a second-degree black belt in Okinawan style Karate, is currently riding a five-fight winning streak and has won ten of his last twelve bouts. The Iowa native submitted Clay Guida with an armbar in October 2004.

Musical Chairs: Marcello Out, Lim In


Gilbert Melendez throws a right hand at Tatsuya Kawajiri. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, who will both be competing at the upcoming Elite Xtreme Combat and Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, both apparently have new information concerning their opponents.

MMA Weekly originally reported that Melendez, who has been advertised as competing in DREAM’s upcoming lightweight grand prix, would not be fighting overseas and would in fact defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello instead. The news came from the mouth of Marcello himself.

Now our friends at MMA Junkie are reporting through Strikeforce vice-president Mike Afromowitz that the fight was never signed and an official opponent for Melendez could be named as soon as this afternoon.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury.

Diaz will reportedly take on a recently victorious Jae Suk Lim, who won the SpiritMC middleweight title for a second time with a decisive win over top prospect Yoon Young Kim last Sunday.

The news comes from GracieFighter, a site maintained by Diaz’s coach, Cesar Gracie, even though Lim stated after his win over Kim that he would fighting inside the confines of ICON Sport in his next bout.

Diaz has not fought since being upset by KJ Noons in a bid for the vacant EliteXC lightweight title.

During his time off, Diaz underwent plastic surgery to repair a large amount of scar tissue that developed around his eyes. The scar tissue certainly factored into his loss to Noons as the fight was stopped because of several cuts Diaz had suffered on his face.

Melendez Returns at “Shamrock vs Le”


Gilbert Melendez throws a right hand at Tatsuya Kawajiri. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Gilbert Melendez will return to action against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello at the Strikeforce and EliteXC co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The event features a highly anticipated clash between former UFC middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and undefeated Sanshou kickboxer Cung Le.

The news comes from MMA Weekly, who confirmed the fight with both fighters.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury. Marcello will fight for the first time since submitting Hector Munoz in September 2007.

Melendez, a Cesar Gracie product, was originally advertised as competing in the first round of DREAM’s lightweight grand prix later this month but revealed that he has not signed a contract with the promotion and is strictly with Strikeforce as of right now.

“This month, on March 29, I will be doing the EliteXC/Strikeforce show on Showtime,” Melendez said in the report. “I’ve got a commitment with Strikeforce, and I look forward to fighting in the States and getting some respect out here. I think it’s a great opportunity to fight in the Dream tournament. I love fighting in Japan, but right now I have a commitment with Strikeforce. I’m looking to just put my focus on Strikeforce; I’ve got a contract there and want to fulfill it.”