Originally written on 5thRound.com  |  Last updated 1/14/13
Now-former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez has long been considered the planet’s top 155-pounder not competing in the UFC. Well, now that Strikeforce is officially yesterday’s news, Melendez will immediately get the opportunity to prove his mettle. According to MMAFighting.com, “El Niño” challenges reigning UFC lightweight king Benson Henderson (Pictured) for his throne on April 20th. Melendez was slated to defend his Strikeforce crown against Pat Healy this past September and again in January, but he was forced to withdraw from both scraps due to a shoulder injury. Strikeforce played its swan song this past Saturday, which opened to contractual doors for Melendez to finally make his way to the UFC. Melendez owns an impressive 21-2 professional record and has rattled off seven consecutive victories. The 30-year-old was last seen posting a split decision win over Josh Thomson in May. Henderson is fresh of making his second title defense. “Smooth” smothered Melendez’s Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu homie, Nate Diaz, in December to retain his strap. Bendo owns a 18-2 professional record and is perfect through his past six scraps. HP Pavilion in San Jose, California hosts the festivities. FOX will broadcast the main card live beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT.
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