Profile: Dominant Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez (21-2) has spent the last few years in the organization mopping up the competition and waiting for an opportunity in the UFC. Currently on a seven-fight winning streak, “El Nino” has defeated all of his opponents with ease over the past four years besides a hard-fought trilogy he won against Josh Thomson that includes his last loss. Melendez has trained in the famed Cesar Gracie fight camp, and the 30-year-old Bay Area native has the best of the best to work with in terms of stand-up and grounds games. Working out with elite fighters like the Diaz brothers and Jake Shields, it is hard not to be impressed by his training regime.
Strikeforce Lightweight Contender Pat Healy (+600)
Profile: Do not let his 16 losses fool you, Pat “Bam Bam” Healy (28-16) is legit competition for anyone who steps into the cage with him. He has wins in his career over Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, UFC interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit, going 9-1 in his last 10 fights, culminating in a five-fight winning streak that has granted him a shot at Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez’s belt. The 29-year-old Oregon native spent much of his career at welterweight, making him look like a giant at 155. But will Healy be able to use this size advantage against Melenedez, who is the cream of the crop in Strikeforce at lightweight?
Opening Strikeforce Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas has made Melendez a heavy -900 favorite (bet $900 to win $100) against Healy, who opened as a +600 underdog (bet $100 to win $600) according to the MMA odds. This is obviously a lopsided line in the champ’s favor, and he is just biding his time at this point of his career and waiting for an opportunity to jump to the UFC. When that will actually happen remains to be seen, as Melendez is one of a select few Strikeforce fighters who are bound to the organization for as long as Showtime broadcasts its events along with middlweight champ Luke Rockhold and women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey. His motivation is one of the few questions heading into this bout with Healy, who has a lot more to gain from this fight and always seems to be up for a challenge. Healy is riding the longest winning streak of his career and presents a size challenge for Melendez with a two-inch height advantage. That might be his only edge though if the champ fights at his best.