Melendez awarded black belt

Gilbert Melendez awarded black belt by Cesar Gracie

You can add Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt to the already impressive resume of UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez.

Less than a week after defeating Diego Sanchez in what is sure to be the 2013 Fight of the Year at UFC 166, the former Strikeforce champion was awarded his black belt by longtime coach Cesar Gracie, who tweeted out congratulations to “El Nino” accompanied with a picture:

Following his win over Sanchez last weekend, Melendez began lobbying for the opportunity to face the winner of the upcoming lightweight title fight between champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and “The Punk,” Josh Thomson, a man Melendez has faced three times in the past.

Given how close Melendez came from winning the title when he faced then-champion Benson Henderson in April and the awesomeness of his UFC 166 encounter with Sanchez, UFC President Dana White said it was a possibility, though failed to commit to the match-up.

For now, the 22-3 Melendez can relax and enjoy some down time with his wife and daughter. After a savage battle like the one he had with Sanchez, he’s certainly earned it.

Stay tuned to for all your UFC news, analysis, and information.

Download the new FOX Sports App to get the latest UFC news.