John LaRocca on booking Gilbert Melendez
Regarding your article of Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez on Yahoo yesterday. It was a really good article and what I like about the article, was that you got into the heart of Melendez. In his heart, you can feel Melendez wants to be the best in the world at 155lbs. Many of my close friends who really know MMA, all have said Melendez is the best lightweight in the world today and I agree with them.
Melendez reminds me of a stud baseball player stuck on a small market team getting no attention or support from the franchise. I understand Melendez has a really nice contract with Strikeforce and its a long term deal, but Zuffa own's Strikeforce and can do what they want with their contracts.
Showtime is promoting a big night of fights this Saturday with Boxing's Super Six Tournament Final between Andre Ward and Carl Froch and then Strikeforce show with Melendez defending the Lightweight title against Jorge Masvidal. I understand it was important for the UFC to not pull Melendez from this show, but say Melendez retains the title against Masvidal, here is my suggestion Zuffa should do afterwards.
First thing Zuffa needs to do is promise to Melendez if he wins against Masvidal, he will get the winner of Frankie Edgar versus Ben Henderson on February 25th in Japan. If he Melendez wins against Masvidal, instruct him to call out the winner of Edgar and Henderson in his post fight interview.
When hyping up Melendez versus either Edgar or Henderson, you can promote Melendez will not be unifying the championships, but he would become a double belt holder. Melendez still will defend both UFC and Strikeforce Titles separately if he wins, meaning if it is a UFC show and he loses, he is still the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and vice versa. Similar to what boxing does when a fighter holds multiple titles from the various organizations.
I believe this will bring brand awareness to Strikeforce and keep interest in the company. This also allow Melendez to honor his Strikeforce commitments as well. If this cross promotion of the brands is successful, then you could look to do the same thing with the other Strikeforce championships.
As a big fan of MMA, I don't want to see a great fighter like Gilbert Melendez facing competition that is not on his level. You want to see the best compete against the best and the best are in the UFC. My suggestion I feel will be best for all involved, the UFC, Strikeforce, Gilbert Melendez and the most important the MMA fans.
San Jose, CA
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