Top-ranked Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez will return to action this Septermber as he looks to make his seventh title defense against Pat Healy. The eponymous “Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy” will take place September 29 at the Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California.
Melendez (21-2) comes into the bout after a successful title defense in May, which saw the Cesar Gracie product take a split decision victory over career rival Josh Thomson. The champion is on a hot run that has seen him avenge his two career losses to the aforementioned Thomson as well as Mitsuhiro Ishida. “El Niño” has knocked down every opponent put in front of him since 2009 to earn a consensus top 5 ranking, a streak which includes the likes of Rodrigo Damm, Jorge Masvidal, DREAM Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki, and perennial lightweight challenger Tatsuya Kawajiri (who dropped to featherweight soon after).
Healy (28-16) earns his shot after five consecutive wins in the Strikeforce cage. “Bam Bam” most recently took a unanimous decision victory over former Sengoku Lightweight Champion Mizuto Hirota earlier this month. Healy’s most recent run has seen the Oregonian hand Lyle Beerbohm his first career loss, send Maximo Blanco down to featherweight, and derail Caros Fodor’s rise to prominence. The Team Quest product will now look for his moment in the sun as he gets his first chance at gold in a major promotion.