The final Strikeforce show came and went, and Gilbert Melendez was nowhere to be seen.
Melendez, the current Strikeforce lightweight champion, was expected to compete on the card, but a shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines.
Now, with the promotion having closed the doors Saturday night, Melendez can call himself a UFC fighter.
“It does (mean a lot). I can finally say that. When people tell me, ‘Yo, you fight UFC?’ I can finally say, ‘Yes, I fight UFC now,'” said Melendez, during an interview with Sherdog.com. “For a minute that was a hard question to answer, but I think that might be the most rewarding thing about it.”
Melendez controlled the Strikeforce lightweight division since 2009, going 7-0. He was forced out of two planned meetings with Pat Healy after suffering an injury in training, but “El Nino” said he will always look back on his career in Strikeforce with great admiration.
“A lot of mixed emotions with Strikeforce going down,” Melendez said. “But, you know, also a new chapter in my life and it looks like my next fight will be in the UFC and that is exciting for me.”
Photo credit: Showtime