Strikeforce champion Melendez calls out UFC’s top lightweights

After just one fight under the Zuffa banner, Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez thinks he is ready to take on the best the Ultimate Fighting Championship has to offer.

“I know I’m not the UFC champion, but I’ve been around this sport a lot longer than Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard,” the 29-year-old Melendez said. “If you look at the past and what I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished more.

Edgar, the UFC lightweight champ, and Maynard are scheduled for a title rematch after fighting to a draw in January. Anthony Pettis is technically the next in line for a title shot, but he must get past Clay Guida.

Melendez said he is as good as any of the talent in the supposedly superior UFC but just hasn’t had the marketing machine behind him as long.

“Not to take anything away from those guys. They’re great fighters. I’m just trying represent my organization and my team,” he said.

Melendez said he doesn’t mind continuing to defend the Strikeforce belt but is willing to take on anyone at anytime. But he prefers to fight for titles.

“There are a lot of great guys, and part of being the champ is that you have to fight every style. Some matchups are harder than others, and you still have to be able to fight and beat them,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter who, it’s just kind of whoever has the strap.”

■ SILVA PUNISHED — The Nevada Athletic Commission suspended UFC fighter Thiago Silva’s license for at least a year and fined him $33,570.

The fine amount is based on the total of 25 percent of his purse and $20,000 of a $55,000 win bonus.

Silva’s win over Brandon Vera was also changed to a no contest after Silva appeared in front of the commission Thursday and admitted taking two steroid injections in his spine in order to fight through an injury.

Silva’s drug test came back as inconsistent with human urine. He told the commission he purchased a sample from cleartest.com.

■ PENN OUT — The UFC was seeking a replacement opponent for BJ Penn after Jon Fitch pulled out of UFC 132 with an injury.

The search didn’t last long, as Penn announced he was also injured and won’t be able to fight on the July 2 card at the MGM Grand Garden.

Penn posted a video on YouTube confirming he suffered a shoulder injury.

The UFC 132 main event pits bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz against Urijah Faber.

■ BUD LIGHT EXTENSION — Bud Light has signed a multiyear extension as the official beer sponsor of the UFC, the organization announced last week.

The Review-Journal has learned the deal runs through 2014.

Under the agreement, Bud Light will be the presenting sponsor of four pay-per-view events per year, an increase from two in the previous deal. The brand will remain a featured sponsor of all other UFC events with prominent logo placement both in the cage and throughout event broadcasts.

In addition, Bud Light and the UFC will present one special promotional event each year, the first of which will take place Sept. 17 in New Orleans and air on Spike.

The beer maker will run a sweepstakes to give away trips to the “Battle on the Bayou” card beginning May 2.

Also, Bud Light will produce its first bottles bearing the UFC logo.

■ MCCORKLE CUT — The UFC has released heavyweight Sean McCorkle after back-to-back losses.

After debuting in the organization with a 1:07 submission win over Mark Hunt, McCorkle lost to Stefan Struve by knockout in December and to Christian Morecraft by submission in March.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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