Henderson to defend title vs. Melendez

Henderson to defend title vs. Melendez

Published Jan. 15, 2013 3:57 p.m. ET

Benson Henderson of Glendale, Ariz., will defend his UFC Lightweight title against Gilbert Melendez on April 20 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., in UFC on FOX 7.

Henderson has an 18-2 record and is 6-0 in UFC competition, while Melendez (21-2) will be making his UFC debut, moving over from the Strikeforce circuit. The April 20 card will also feature former Strikeforce heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier against Frank Mir.

Henderson will be the first UFC fighter to headline two UFC on FOX cards, after winning a unanimous decision over Nick Diaz at UFC on FOX 5 on Dec. 8 in Seattle.

“I am beyond thrilled to be competing again on network TV for the UFC on FOX 7 card against Gilbert Melendez," Henderson said. "It's an honor to be put in this position by both the UFC and FOX executives, who are placing trust in me to be able to deliver another exciting fight on live TV. The fans can expect to see a lot of action from two fighters who have aggressive styles. It should be a fun night.

“Gilbert Melendez is one of the toughest fighters on the planet. I've said over and over that I just want to fight the best in the world. I don't care in what order I face them, but I want to fight the best in the biggest fights. He has been the Strikeforce Lightweight champion, and is going to be real hungry in his first UFC fight.

“Gilbert Melendez trains with Nick Diaz, so I'm sure there will be some strategy shared in his camp from my last fight. I don't concern myself with that, however. I will have my own game plan and it will be up to me to execute that. I can't worry about how he will plan to fight me, only on how I plan to fight him.”

Henderon's manager, Malki Kalwa, said the choice of Henderson to headline a second FOX card is "a testament to his value to the UFC and as a fighter that is able to deliver on the big stage."