Three potentially interesting bouts after Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal
GILBERT MELENDEZ vs. WINNER OF JIM MILLER/MELVIN GUILLARD
Right, so the idea of Melendez leaving Strikeforce after beating Masvidal is apparently off the table. He’s stuck in the Hexagon, the victim of re-opened negotiations between Showtime and Dana White, and likely won’t have a chance to leave until his contract expires after four more fights. But he still deserves a chance to face the best competition in the world, and with all respects to K.J. Noons and Caros Fodor, Strikeforce has none of the best competition in the world remaining on their roster.
The time has come to start sending UFC guys over for Melendez to face in the main events of Strikeforce cards. You make them non-title fights, because really, that Strikeforce belt doesn’t mean anything at this point anyway.
B.J. Penn would be a good option if he wanted to drop back to lightweight, but all indications are that he’s sticking around welterweight if he does indeed decide to come back. The winner of the January 20 bout between Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard might be a perfect candidate. Both guys were in UFC title contention before being derailed by recent losses, and both guys represent a significant step up in competition from what Melendez would otherwise be facing.
CRISTIANE SANTOS vs. RONDA ROUSEY
I feel bad for suggesting this fight, because it most certainly doesn’t need to happen in the next twelve months. Rousey has rocketed into the minds (and hearts) of male MMA fans with her no-nonsense approaches to fighting and trash-talking, but she’s not ready for a fighter of Cyborg’s caliber. This was readily apparent after Cyborg’s 16-second destruction of Yamanaka on Saturday night and the horrified look on Rousey’s face that she may have bitten off more than she could chew. It was the same look given by Gina Carano back when she realized she would eventually have to fight Santos, and we all know how that ended up. It’s just too early for Rousey to face that firing squad.
The perfect scenario: Rousey fights Miesha Tate. If she wins the belt, let her defend it against Sarah Kaufman and Alexis Davis and perhaps one other person. A year from now, people will actually be clamoring to see Rousey get a shot at Cyborg, and it’ll be a big fight. Right now, though, we just want to see Rousey continue her improvement without the threat of a Cyborg mauling looming over her.
GEGARD MOUSASI vs. WINNER OF KING MO/LORENZ LARKIN
I mean, what else is there? I can’t, for the life of me, name five other light heavyweights in Strikeforce. They’re apparently going to crown a new light heavyweight champion, even though they’d be better served in folding the light heavyweight division into the UFC along with the heavyweights. If the heavyweight division is being deleted because it’s just not deep enough, well, what does that say about 205? Take Mo, Mousasi, Feijao and throw them into the UFC’s light heavyweight pool, because Jon Jones is eventually going to run out of challengers, anyway.