Gilbert Melendez feels that he has dished out and taken far too much punishment, mentally and physically, to still have to justify his place amongst the top names in the lightweight division of MMA. His credentials are immaculate (21-2 MMA, 3-time MMA LW Champion), his poise and fluidity inside the cage are almost unmatched, and his confidence speaks volumes through his performances. But hold the phone. Melendez has never stepped foot inside the UFC octagon. Melendez has never gone to battle inside the most brutal and dangerous platform in all of sports. Melendez has never faced another top 5 lightweight in the world. So what is all the hype about? Is Melendez blowing up his own balloon too big? Not quite.
The fact of the matter is that Gilbert Melendez is, without a doubt, one of the most skilled and accomplished lightweights in MMA history. However, until he proves he can back up all of his credentials by putting on a stellar performance inside the UFC octagon against a top 5 lightweight contender all of those credentials are just that…credentials. Nothing more. It’s like a highly intelligent student finishing at the top of their class with tons of community service hours, participating and leading several clubs, and rocking every internship they ever took on only to finally land a respectable job where they’re given the company’s biggest account and they quickly lose it. All of that previous work means nothing until it is utilized to tackle and accomplish the ultimate goal, which in this case is the UFC lightweight title.
Melendez will finally have a chance to put all of those credentials and past experiences to work as he takes on UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson this Saturday on FOX.
Melendez, who is coming into this fight as the former Strikeforce Champion, has been saying for the past few years that he is the best in the world, second to none, period. Well, now is Melendez’s time to shine. He’ll have one shot, 25 minutes, to prove to the world that he is indeed all that he’s been claiming to be. These past few years have seen many champions from other promotions, Strikeforce especially, make the transfer over to the UFC to challenge the champions residing in the world’s number one MMA promotion.
The past has not been a good sign for Melendez as he’s watched many of his teammates and close friends fall victim to UFC champs. First, Jake Shields (former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion) lost his UFC welterweight title fight to GSP. Then Melendez watched Nate Diaz get handled by his upcoming opponent, Benson Henderson, for the UFC lightweight title. And just a few weeks ago he watched Nate’s older brother Nick Diaz (former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion) get controlled and lose to GSP in another UFC welterweight title fight. This is not to mention Alistair Overeem (former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion), Nate Marquardt (Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion), and Hector Lombard (former Bellator Middleweight Champion), who all recently lost UFC bouts before even gaining title shots.
So does fate have something else written for Mr. Gilbert Melendez or will he hit the same UFC championship brick wall that his teammates have had so much trouble scaling? Melendez will do everything in his power to make sure history does not repeat itself as he strives to become the first man to ever hold the Strikeforce title before claiming UFC gold as well. The question is, can he put on that one perfect performance needed to break the trend? We’ll find out tomorrow night at UFC on FOX 7 in San Jose, California. Don’t miss it fight fans.