Melendez guns for revenge against Henderson
MANILA, Philippines – Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is eager to transfer to the UFC, where he will get the chance to challenge Benson “Smooth” Henderson for the organization’s lightweight belt.
In an interview with Middle Easy, Melendez said he “wants a piece” of Henderson, especially after “Smooth” thoroughly dominated No. 1 contender Nate Diaz in his most recent title defense at UFC on FOX 6.
Melendez and Diaz are good friends and teammates.
“You’re hurt, because your buddy lost, and I feel like Nate didn’t perform his best,” Melendez said. “He had some things going on. Benson did pop him in the eye.”
“You want to whip the dude’s a**, you want to beat him up. You want to avenge your team, avenge your homie, but much respect to the guy,” he added.
“Nothing personal, but you want a piece of him.”
Even as he issued his challenge, Melendez was quick to credit Henderson for his performance and his improvement over the years as a mixed martial artist.
“Benson is an amazing fighter, a tough guy,” he said. “Initially, I wasn’t too impressed with his WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) days, but as soon as he made his first appearance in the UFC, I was really impressed.”
“I’ve seen him improving in every fight since,” Melendez said.
But the 30-year-old Mexican-American believes he has what it takes to dethrone Henderson, who has made two defenses of the UFC lightweight belt so far.
“He is an impressive guy, but I match up very well with him, and I think I can beat him,” Melendez said.