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Melendez defends belt, makes case to be No. 1 lightweight

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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Gilbert Melendez held onto his Strikeforce lightweight championship belt with a dominating performance at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley. Melendez quickly TKOed Kawajiri in San Diego on Saturday.

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Melendez started aggressively in the first round, dropping Kawajiri with a right hook and then following up with a bevy of strikes. He took Kawajiri's back, and continued to land strikes even as Kawajiri struggled to his feet. When they returned to stand-up, Kawajiri, a noted wrestler, shot in for a takedown but Melendez sprawled, threw an upper cut and then followed up with strikes and elbows to finish the fight at 3:14 in the first round.

After he ran through Kawajiri, Melendez wanted to make it clear that he believes he's the best lightweight in the world, not UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

"I think it's time to unify some titles. I'm the No. 1 lightweight in the world. Let's get it done," Melendez said.

Melendez hadn't been in the cage for a year; his last win was over another Japanese fighter, Shinya Aoki. Melendez's record is now 19-2. Kawajiri, who faced numerous training difficulties because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, was making his American debut. He fell to 27-7-2.

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