Gilbert Melendez was a Strikeforce staple, not that it kept the organization's lightweight champ from speculating just how he'd fare in the UFC.
Even now after the UFC has absorbed Strikeforce and he has been awarded a title shot against Benson Henderson in the main event of UFC on FOX 7 at HP Pavilion on Saturday, Melendez told FOXSports.com he could have been a UFC champ years ago.
"Every time, I wanted to fight the champion," Melendez said. "Nothing against any of those guys, like Kenny Florian and B.J. Penn. I could have beaten them. Those two guys I really want to fight. There are others like Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar I would have liked to fight. I've been waiting to fight these guys a long time and it's finally happening."
This is a rare bout between two champs. Melendez, 31, makes his UFC debut holding Strikeforce's final lightweight championship belt. Henderson is seeking to defend the UFC lightweight belt a third time.