Mixed martial arts media outlets confirmed earlier this week that UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson who arguable was 2012’s most captivating fighter is set to take on his next opponent for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s April 20th national FOX card.
Naming his opponent Gilbert Melendez, the final Strikeforce lightweight champion didn’t surprise anyone, especially not his trainer.
“Gilbert’s been wanting to fight in UFC for a long time,” Cesar Gracie, Melendez’s trainer told Fox News Latino.
Asked if this is what the fighter wanted when he moved to the UFC, Gracie said emphatically “Yes.”
With the recent folding of Strikeforce, many of their fighters and champions are moving to the UFC to finally get their chance to compete in the premier MMA organization.
For Melendez, he had been hoping to put on UFC gloves since the company purchased Strikeforce in 2011.
“To me it was no brainer though because Gilbert Melendez is a top three fighter,” said Gracie.
For Gracie, a member of the legendary first family of MMA and whose Gracie Jiu Jitsu gyms attract many of MMA’s top fighters, this will be his second student’s opportunity to get the UFC lightweight championship.
This past December his pupil Nate Diaz lost to Henderson in what was a decision victory. But that doesn’t mean harbors any mixed feelings on his training partner getting a crack at the title he had previously chased.
“After [Nate Diaz lost to Henderson]he said in the post fight press conference that Gil should get the next shot,” said Gracie. “The man pushing for this fight the most is Nate Diaz.”
He added: “[Melendez’s] biggest supporters are the Diaz brothers.
Gracie also reminded Fox News Latino that Nate’s brother Nick also gets a title shot against George St. Pierre for the welterweight championship next month.
With two UFC title shots to start off 2013, Gracie’s chances of getting that that elusive belt are better than ever.
Follow Victor Garcia on Twitter @MrVicGarcia.