Gilbert Melendez holds onto Strikeforce belt with decision win

Maggie Hendricks

Gilbert Melendez defended the Strikeforce men's lightweight belt with a methodical decision over Jorge Masvidal in the main event for Strikeforce on Saturday night. On the judges' cards, the champ took it 50-45, 50-45, 49-46.

As the two were feeling each other out in the opening round, Masvidal opened his arms and invited Melendez to hit him, so Melendez obliged and stung Masvidal with straight punches. Masvidal stayed light on his feet, and kicked Melendez's leg out from underneath him. Melendez quickly returned to his feet. Near the end of the round, Melendez caught Masvidal in a front headlock and landed knees to finish the round well.

Masvidal continued to talk smack to Melendez in the second round, and Melendez continued to have an edge in striking. Melendez stayed light on his feet and shook Masvidal with several strikes. Masvidal was unable to find a rhythm or cause any damage.

The third round started with Masvidal thwarting a Melendez takedown attempt. Masvidal threw a knee and knocked out Melendez's mouthpiece and continued to talk smack. Every time Masvidal opened his mouth, Melendez landed a punch. Masvidal appeared to be more comfortable in the third round and was able to create more offense, but still not enough to disrupt Melendez.

Melendez moved forward and landed several unanswered punches in the fourth round. He continued to stay light on his feet and move in to land jabs. In the final minute, Melendez started using a one-two combination effectively.

Masvidal used a knee to try to get inside early in the fifth and final round, but again was unable to create any damage. Melendez stayed calm, kept moving, and used combinations to control the rhythm of the last round. Sensing urgency, Masvidal unloaded in the final minute. He tried for a takedown and to take Melendez's back, but it was too little to make a difference.

After the win, Melendez was asked about his future, and he said he wants a challenge from the UFC.

"I'm proud to be a part of Strikeforce, but they've got to bring over some guys to challenge me. I want to take the UFC champ, whoever it is. Come in my hexagon and let's fight," Melendez said.

He won his last six fights, earning a record of 20-2. Masvidal is now 22-7.

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