Gilbert Melendez to Challenge Benson Henderson for Lightweight Title at UFC on Fox 7


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A lightweight title tilt between former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez and reigning UFC king Benson Henderson will headline UFC on Fox 7.

Promotion officials announced the news Tuesday, revealing that the event will take place at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The show’s main card airs live on Fox’s flagship network, while the prelims will be broadcast on cable network FX. MMAFighting.com first reported the upcoming main event on Monday.

Melendez, 30, is regarded by many as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound talents, despite never competing in the UFC. A two-time Strikeforce champion, “El Nino” recaptured the belt from Josh Thomson in December 2009 and has since defended it four times, besting Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal before most recently taking a hard-fought split decision over Thomson in their May 19 rubber match. The Cesar Gracie pupil was expected return to the cage to defend his belt against Pat Healy, but injuries to Melendez derailed that pairing in both September and January.

Henderson, 29, has been perfect since joining the UFC in 2011, rattling off three straight wins before taking the lightweight title from Frankie Edgar in a competitive unanimous decision this past February at UFC 144. “Smooth” then narrowly edged Edgar in their August rematch, taking a contentious split decision win over “The Answer” at UFC 150. Most recently, Henderson put forth a masterful performance against Melendez’s teammate Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5, using a varied attack to outpoint Diaz on Dec. 8 in Seattle.

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