This last week was full of rumors that UFC President Dana White was considering pulling in Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez onto the UFC roster in an accelerated pace. Well today came an announcement by Strikeforce that on December 17th Melendez would defend his Strikeforce title against Jorge Masvidal, as previously planned. The fight is scheduled to air on Showtime.
It is likely some of those types of business obligations that are holding back the quick absorbing of the Strikeforce roster. After all, if a network like Showtime is owed a show or two, they are unlikely to say ‘sure don’t worry about it, take it to FOX, we are good’.
This is where things get complicated, and executives and networks and business deals slow down the progress of the sport. The bottom line is that the more time Melendez stays off the UFC roster the more we are simply left waiting for a world class guy to step into the big league of the sport. Masvidal too, at 22-6 is absolutely no slouch and an argument could easily be made he belongs in the UFC as well.
And with the UFC pulling in some fighters quickly, such as Melendez teammate Nick Diaz things get especially murky. Again, a network like Showtime is not going to settle for an inferior product, but the Strikeforce roster is filled with a lot of up and coming talent, and there is no real apparent reason to not pull in the entire top tier they had into the UFC right away.
Gilbert Melendez versus Frankie Edgar is a fight I think every MMA fan would want to see. As a matchmaker, something like Jorge Masvidal taking on Melvin Guillard has a lot of appeal.
Their does not seem to be a quick or easy solution to some of these problems, and it is a shame. There are some who are opposed to Melendez getting an instant title shot in the UFC, though I think his resume justifies it. So why not take the fight with Masvidal and hold it under the UFC banner? Take the Strikeforce show and start calling it UFC right away, if possible. But most of all, pull in the top level talent onto the roster as soon as possible. We won’t see Melendez in the UFC now util 2012, and that is a huge shame.