"I'm campaigning hard for it," Melendez told MMAjunkie.com Radio of earning another lightweight title shot. "That was the goal, was to make a statement. I wanted to win the fight, wanted to take care of business, but the goal was to look good, and I'm definitely going to campaign for it."
The former Strikeforce lightweight champion can campaign all he wants, but as of now the UFC's 155-pound belt is tied up as reigning champion Anthony Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is scheduled to face top contender Josh Thomson (20-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 9 in December.
While Melendez would ideally like to challenge the winner of that bout sometime in early 2014, he is also taking into consideration that an injury-prone Thomson could withdraw from the fight at any time.
Melendez has already thought about that potential scenario, and while he's somewhat non-committal about jumping into another fight, the 31-year-old would likely be willing to step in on short notice if it meant getting another chance to become world champion.
"It went through my head right away," Melendez said of potentially fighting for a title on short notice. "Right away after the fight you start thinking about the future. Josh is a guy who has been prone to injury, so I'm like, 'Man, would I step up?'
"It definitely crossed my mind and I haven't made that decision yet. Right now I'm feeling good, I'm feeling proud, I'm on a high right now and I think I can do it. If I need to do it I would do it, but I need a little more time to make that decision."
As of now, Melendez is still reeling from the overwhelming fall-out of his incredible matchup with Sanchez (24-6 MMA, 13-6 UFC) in Houston, a performance that earned him an additional $60,000 "Fight of the Night" bonus.
Melendez essentially dominated the entire affair, save for a third-round knockdown by "The Dream."
The fight was one of the most frenetic 15-minute battles the sport has ever seen, and while Sanchez said afterward two more rounds would have allowed him to overtake the action, Melendez disagrees and feels a 25-minute fight would have opened the door for him to score a knockout or submission.
"I've done five rounds plenty of times," Melendez said. "I think I was gaining momentum. He came at me really hard and gave me all he had in that third round and I feel like if it went four, five rounds I would have eventually chopped him down and finished him.
"Five rounds? With pleasure. I would have done it and I maybe would have finished him in five rounds. No problem. I ain't scared."
Whether or not Melendez will get the chance to face the winner of Pettis vs. Thomson is unknown at this time, but even if it comes down to facing another top contender before the belt, that's fine with too.
At the end of the day, Melendez believes his UFC 166 performance proved he is the best lightweight in the world, and regardless of if it takes one, two or five fights to get the gold around his waist, that opinion and self-confidence won't waiver.
"I know I can out-tough anyone in this division. I went against the craziest madman in the lightweight division and I out-toughed him," Melendez said. "I can beat anyone in my weight class and I feel like I'm the uncrowned champ and the No. 1 lightweight in the world."