Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez knows a thing or two about fighting. He has been one of the Lightweight division’s very best for the better half of the last ten years. Primarily known as the king of Strikeforce, Melendez defended a Strikeforce title six times overall and was a three-time champion. He also was the very first ever WEC champion. Nowadays, Melendez has been trying his hand as an analyst and has been doing a great job.
Since it’s the week of UFC 219 which is headlined by the big Featherweight title fight that pits Cris Cyborg against Holly Holm, Melendez took the time to share his thoughts with ESPN on how Holm can defeat the seemingly unbeatable, Cyborg.
“First, let’s talk about size. Everyone talks about Cris Cyborg as this huge fighter who is bigger than everyone and towers over everyone. She’s going against Holly Holm, who is also pretty big and in good shape. It’s a well-matched fight where Cris won’t be towering over Holly.
Holly was able to neutralize the takedown of Ronda Rousey. Not many people can do that. She has a lot of strength of her own and will keep someone honest. Cyborg can pull that off on other fighters just using her strength to take someone down — but when it gets to a higher level, you need perfect technique for that to work.
A lot of Cris’ past opponents didn’t have the tools that Holly Holm has,” Melendez says. “That’s what people are overlooking. Not many women can move the way Holly can on her feet. She’s very fluid and can move around the Octagon easily. A lot of other girls Cyborg has fought are good strikers, but they are more flat-footed. They won’t stick and move like Holly can.
Better believe Holly will be on her bicycle, sprinting away, disengaging as much as possible. She will neutralize Cyborg with push kicks and front kicks. Holly has the power to hurt her, but that’s not what she’s looking to do, go for the kill. She’s looking to hit those right spots.
Those push kicks to the body, those kicks to the head, one punch to the head can change the fight. But you’re not trying to knock her out; it’ll happen organically. In and out, in and out, and one of those strikes are going to land and you’ll see the time to pounce.
Everyone knew how to beat Ronda Rousey, stick and move and defend the takedown. But once they got in there, their emotions got the best of them and they fought a dumb fight,” Melendez says. “Not Holly Holm. She was very composed and able to stick and move and be very tactical. What helped with that is she had Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn as her coaches. They will come up with a very good game plan against Cyborg.
Holly has done it before, thinks she can do it again and that will definitely make that ‘holy s—‘ moment be not as bad. After beating Ronda and with her coaching staff, she’s not the type of person who will be bullied. She’s going to be confident in herself and be game.”
Do you agree with Melendez? Who wins at UFC 219 this Saturday?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 12/26/2017.