by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
Last Saturday night at Strikeforce at the Mansion, Gilbert Melendez, ranked as the No. 3 lightweight in the world by MMAWeekly.com, defeated Tetsuji Kato by unanimous decision. The interesting thing about how he beat Kato was that he did it with practically one hand.
It was noticeable after the first round that Melendez was reluctant to use his right hand, but that didn’t stop the California native from dominating.
“It was … an injury I’ve had for a little bit, it just kind of lingered and never really went away. Right when I dropped him the first time was the first time I heard it,” explained Melendez of the injury. “I was able to punch and throw it a little bit more. But into the second round, midway through, I threw it at the top of the guys head, I knew I couldn’t throw it anymore.”
He kept Kato at bay with some good ground and pound and effective striking, but Melendez felt things would likely have happened much differently with two good hands.
“I think I could’ve finished him … I could’ve done a lot more. I tried. Hopefully, I’ll have a better performance next time.”
The question on many fans’ minds about Melendez is the severity of the injury.
“I got it x-rayed. The guy said I was lucky. No break. Just a lot of swelling. I’m getting a sonogram … to make sure there are no torn tendons.”
While Melendez’s hand is healing, the big question is when can we see him fight again. After all, his last fight prior to the Playboy Mansion was nine months ago and fans don’t want to see him on the shelf for that long again.
“I believe there’s a Strikeforce in November,” Melendez commented. “If I’m healthy and I’m ready to go, I wouldn’t mind jumping on there. I’m in good shape. I want to keep fighting.”
Josh Thomson was also successful on Saturday night with a first round stoppage of Adam Lynn. He recently mentioned his desire to fight Melendez – even though they are friends and have trained together – once the right terms were set.
“I guess I’m on the same page as him, too,” Melendez said of the match-up. “I know it would be a hell of a fight. I think everyone is going to get their money’s worth and I hope we get our money’s worth, too. I think it’ll be a great fight. I’m pretty sure it would happen within a year.”
Another impressive fighter from the Strikeforce event was Jorge Masvidal, who has also had some very successful fights against tough fighters like Yves Edwards, Joe Lauzon and Keith Wisniewski. Melendez agrees that a bout with Masvidal could be on the table soon.
“He’s pretty hungry. I was just watching his fight and I was really impressed. He’s definitely a guy who has potential. It’d be a great fight, too. That’s definitely a possibility now.”
A lot has been made recently of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s dominance of the American mixed martial arts scene. But Strikeforce proved last Saturday night that the UFC isn’t the only promotion capable of putting on quality shows.
Melendez was well compensated for his fight; according to the California State Athletic Commission, he was paid $30,000 for his victory against Kato. The event was also streamed live on Yahoo! Sports. Melendez doesn’t seem to feel he’s missed the boat by not fighting in the UFC.
“When you prove yourself as a fighter, you don’t have to settle. I guess some people have to jump on opportunities. There are a lot of organizations out there … taking care of their fighters. When people used to ask me why I wasn’t in the UFC, it used to bother me. Now I’m like, I don’t know, maybe someday.”