Gilbert Melendez to move to UFC

Updated: October 2, 2011, 9:24 AM ET
By Franklin McNeil | ESPN.com

WASHINGTON -- The next fight for Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is likely to be inside the Octagon.

UFC president Dana White said he wants to have Melendez in his promotion very soon.

"We do want to bring Gilbert Melendez over [to UFC] and we're looking at it right now," White said Saturday night. "We're going to bring him over ASAP."

It was believed that Melendez (19-2) would defend his Strikeforce title in December against Jorge Masvidal. But White further emphasized his desire to have Melendez's next fight be in UFC.

"We're looking to bring him over right now," White said.

White refused to guarantee a title shot for Melendez in his first UFC bout, but he would not rule it out.

"It's a possibility." White said. "The thing is, that division is stacked.

"And usually timing has a lot to do with it."

Melendez is third among lightweights and eighth pound-for-pound in the ESPN.com power rankings. He has won five in a row.

In his most recent bout, Melendez stopped Tatsuya Kawajiri in the first round on April 9.

Melendez would become the fourth Strikeforce champion to vacate his title since the promotion was purchased in March by UFC's parent company, Zuffa, LLC. The others are heavyweight Alistair Overeem, light heavyweight Dan Henderson and welterweight Nick Diaz, all of whom now compete in UFC.

Franklin McNeil covers mixed martial arts and boxing for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.