With all the UFC talk buzzing around Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez earlier this year he continues in 2012 to be the the premier fighter in Strikeforce.
The California mixed martial artist has been touted as one of the elite in the sport. Fox News Latino spoke with him just the other day.
FOX NEWS LATINO: Gilbert Melendez, the Strikeforce lightweight champion. Gilbert, how are you doing?
MELENDEZ: I am doing great, man, a couple of days out of the fight, just getting ready.
FNL: You’re out there in San Jose, which has been the home of Strikeforce. This is the first big Strikeforce show since Zuffa took over in San Jose, right?
MELENDEZ: Yeah, exactly, back to the, the stomping grounds. But yes, the first time since Zuffa has been in control.
FNL: So you got a fight. And now, this is the rubber match with you and Josh Thomson. Josh Thomson beat you the first time around…you beat him for the title…and now this is the third and decisive matchup. Are, are you excited about this Saturday?
MELENDEZ: Oh, definitely, man. You know I have worked hard and I’d like to finally put to rest this chapter in my life.
FNL: Right now you are getting a lot of questions… since Zuffa bought, the UFC bought Strikeforce, and everyone’s been asking when you are going to go over to the UFC. That’s been answered now finally; you thought you were going to go over… It looked like you were going to go over, but now you are a Strikeforce fighter. And, and you are going to be a Strikeforce fighter. Are you, are you OK with that?
MELENDEZ: Oh yeah, at the end of the day, I am, you know. I am always happy with Strikeforce and Showtime. I mean, they take care of me well. You know, I just wanted to fight some of the UFC competition to prove that we are pretty legit in Strikeforce. What makes me happy is at least I know what’s going on for the next year of my life and I am in Strikeforce. And it would be nice to have the UFC Strap as well, or beat some of those guys up but at the end of the day… I used to fight for 200 bucks; you know what I mean, so things are going well now.
FNL: You talk about some of the guys in the UFC. One of your friends, Nate Diaz, just won a big match on Fox…gave you a shout out, called you “the real lightweight champion.” What was your reaction to that after you heard that?
MELENDEZ: I mean, of course, you, you are touched, you know what I mean? Nate is just an awesome guy to… His biggest day of his life, he gives me the biggest shout out of my life, you know? So I am touched by it and it means a lot to hear him say that. And I truly believe he is going to be the next UFC champ.
FNL: Somewhere down the road… You guys are both in the same division. He is having the best fights of his career right now. That fight was amazing for him. He looked very impressive. Is that something you worry about, that one day you guys are going to have to meet, or is that something that’s not going to happen?
GILBERT MELENDEZ: Nah, I don’t think it’s going to happen, man, I don’t think it’s going to happen at all. I think if he wins that UFC title, it’s just like me winning it, you know what I mean? And if I have the Strikeforce belt and he has that, I think it’s mission accomplished for the team and I think—and that would be great. But I have no intentions of fighting my teammate.
FNL: Now you are not overlooking Josh Thomson. Some people are kind of thinking this is another example of… Strikeforce doesn’t have the talent that you deserve to face. Beyond Josh Thomson—who, again, you are not overlooking—well, who…? What’s next after that, win or lose?
MELENDEZ: I mean, after Josh Thomson, there is some, there are some pretty tough guys, you know? “Bam Bam” Healy or J.Z. Cavalcante and some, some young up and comers, you know, Ryan Couture, uh, and, uh, some other guys that are working on, Justin Wilcox and, you know, James Terry. But, uh, but yeah man, J.Z. and Pat—and “Bam Bam” Healy—are guys out there and Jorge Masvidal, who is still in that mix in there. So I mean, there is some tough talent in there, whether I win or lose. Those are some tough guys, and that’s what they got going on in there, so yeah.
FNL: Well, what, what are you looking to do this Saturday? Are you out to prove a point? Are you looking to just completely dominate or are you being more realistic about it? What do you think the end result is going to be Saturday night?
MELENDEZ: I mean I want to fight a smart fight. I definitely want to be aggressive and I want to take some risks out there. And I want to have some fun, you know what I mean? You know, I have been training hard and I am going to apply some skills. Josh is a tough opponent. You know, he is the kind of guy who gets up for his fights. He is always dangerous. And when he has the opportunity of his life and he is given the opportunity of his life—we are here- he hasn’t performed that well—he is going to show up. So, it could be a war. But again I just want to display my MMA skills and, and show that I have improved as a Mixed Martial Artist.
FNL: Were you kind of a little irked at the Grand Prix, which has been a little lackluster for the most part. It took the Main Event for this card and you being a, a proven, tested champion [could be the main event]?
MELENDEZ: No, I am not too stressed about it. You know, I am cool with Main Event I still get to get TV time. And the good thing about it is I get a run out after my fight and enjoy [their] fight. It’s not too big of an issue for me. I don’t get too mad about that stuff. I have been in Main Event before and I’ll be in Main Event again.
FNL: Now, we talked about Nate Diaz. You got Nick Diaz. Jake Shields is a pal of yours. The Skrap Pack. How have they been holding up? Have you guys been training a lot together? Right now I know the Diaz Brothers have been training with you. [Is] that crew still pretty close?
MELENDEZ: Of course man, we are real tight. Jake has been bulking up, getting to 185. He is in the gym all the time. Nate, you know, he fought that one Saturday on Cinco de Mayo. And, that Monday he came to my gym and came and trained with me man. I mean, he literally took a day off and [LAUGHS] and came and trained with me. That’s crazy. And Jake is always there. Nick has been, uh, you know, doing his thing right now. We’ll stick together.
FNL: What do you want the fans to expect this Saturday from you?
MELENDEZ: Expect to be entertained—that’s what they expect, you know? Expect to be very entertained—that’s just my style and I am going to come and I am going to entertain and I am going to have a good time out there.
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