With Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal in the books, it’s time to play Sean Shelby and match up the five most intriguing matchups for those on the card.
Gilbert Melendez vs. Kenny Florian –It’s now well past time to move him over. Melendez’s expiration date in the promotion is well past due. I thought so earlier this year and now it’s well past due. There’s no more intriguing matchups left for him unless they start shifting guys over from the UFC or feed him prospects. No one wants another matchup with Shinya Aoki or Josh Thompson, amongst others. Now’s the time to strip him of the title, move him over to Zuffa and give him someone of note or move someone like Florian or Gray Maynard over to challenge for a title. Florian would be my pick; he’s probably never going to challenge for the UFC lightweight title again and is in the “interesting matchups” phase that will mark the end of his career. If Melendez can run through him it’ll tell us much more about Gilbert than Kenny; Maynard has challenged twice this year for the same title that Florian has and came up empty. He’s in the same spot that Florian in that he probably won’t challenge Frankie Edgar again unless it’s several years and 7-10 straight victories from Maynard. Melendez and Maynard is also the best matchup in the division that doesn’t include Frankie Edgar, thus it makes sense as well that Maynard could challenge for another title without facing Edgar again.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Josh Thompson – Thompson is coming off a loss as well, and has been hurt as of late as well; when he’s healthy, a game Masvidal could be a fun matchup. Masvidal has potential to be a fringe Top 10 fighter in 2-3 years, maybe, and Thompson has a victory over Melendez and would be a good matchup to see if Masvidal has what it takes to be on that level. Losing to Melendez like he did isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Scrap Pack member is a top 3 fighter in the division and losing in dominant fashion is almost to be expected at this point in his career. However whether or not he can improve his game and give him more of a fight a second time in a year is something we need to find out. Thompson would be a good test of that.
K.J Noons vs. Jorge Gurgel – There was some controversy the last time the two fought that needs resolution. Noons didn’t look impressive in victory nor did Gurgel in defeat; this is a stay busy type fight for the two. Neither of them are going to challenge Melendez now, or in the future, for the title and at this point another fight between the two would be entertaining at least.
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs. Ronda Rousey – Rousey wants a title shot and doesn’t care if it’s Miesha Tate or Santos. Santos needs someone of note who’ll do more than play punching bag. Other than that it’s hard to find a matchup for Santos that doesn’t seem remarkably one sided; another matchup with Gina Carano could be in the cards if they want someone of note to keep her busy and elevate her profile some more.
Gegard Mousasi vs. Robbie Lawler – Mousasi ought to be fighting at middleweight, not LHW, and there are more compelling matchups at that weight as well. Lawler would be a fun fight and push him, making it a good setup for Mousasi vs. the winner of Rockhold/Jardine for the middleweight title. Roger Gracie at LHW could be an intriguing matchup, if only to see if he’s willing to go to the ground with the best BJJ player in MMA.
Tags: Five for Fighting, Mixed Martial Arts