Gilbert Melendez talks friends and foes
A perfect storm will hit Houston, Texas at UFC 166 when Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez collides with “The Dream” Diego Sanchez. Many bouts are billed as potential “3 round wars”, but that is about the only thing one can plan for as the 5x Fight of the Night winner Sanchez meets the former long-time Strikeforce lightweight champion Melendez. In this pre-fight interview with #2 ranked 155er in the UFC, Melendez holds court talking everything from his upcoming opponent to future ones, and added insight into his enigmatic friends/teammates the Diaz brothers.
For Sanchez, “El Nino” is the first person not underestimating the former The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner. “I think he’s a little underrated in this situation,” admits Melendez who mentions that Sanchez’s one loss at lightweight was in a title fight against future UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn. Also, Melendez knows Sanchez quite well as the two have trained and sparred together in the past.
The topic switches to a worry no one will ever have about a Melendez fight, it being boring. “I grew up in the days where I was fighting in Japan where that stuff is frowned upon, you get a yellow card for that,” tells Melendez who did compete 6x in Japan, going 5-1 in the process. Melendez has always been categorized as a bull in the cage: charging forward and delivering heavy punches. Boring or point fighting is not in “El Nino’s” repertoire.
Two possible opponents are mentioned in UFC lightweight champ Anthony Pettis and Melendez’s Strikeforce rival Josh Thomson. As for Pettis, Melendez does refer to “Showtime” as the future, but he does bring the champ back down to Earth saying he believes Pettis is “a little bit more beatable than Benson”. About Thomson, good news for fans of their incredible title trilogy in Strikeforce, Melendez is open to a possible 4th meeting with Thomson.
“Now, [Thomson’s] getting that title shot,” reveals Melendez. “I hope he wins! I’d love to fight him for the title again. Like more so than ever, I know that 4th fight is going to happen before our careers are over, which kind of makes me laugh.”
The last and most intriguing subject is, and always will be, the Diaz brothers. “When I retire, I’ll probably put on 40 pounds and drink some beer and not do as much active stuff, but Nick’s retired and he’s eating healthy and living healthy and working out and staying in shape,” asserts Melendez that Nick Diaz is “forever ready” to fight because that’s just how he lives his life. Melendez then opines about the allure of the Diaz brothers’ attitude for himself, for UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and to all fighters and people everywhere.
“There must be some similarity where [Ronda Rousey] can relate to Nick and Nate, and I think she just likes their attitude,” affirms Melendez. “The f*** it attitude. They just go for it. Whether they win or lose, they’ll fight to the death. I think she must admire that and who doesn’t. I know a lot of fighters who admire that. I see it backstage. There are big heavyweights that are freaked out by it and don’t want to tell Nick and Nate anything.”