Former Strikeforce lightweight champion, WEC lightweight champ, and UFC 155-pound title contender Gilbert Melendez will move down to the featherweight division for his fight with Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215.
“El Nino” is coming off three consecutive losses as a lightweight and believes the change in weight class is the right decision. He’s looking to rejuvenate his career in a weight division that he once competed in.
“I’m dropping down to 145. I feel like guys are getting better at cutting weight. I don’t feel like people are doing it unhealthy. I just think the sport is evolving. There are better techniques to it,” Melendez said while appearing on The MMA Hour. “I used to be a 145-pounder, and I was doing just fine at 155. Guys just got bigger and stronger and a little bit more tough.”
“I’m looking to reinvent myself, be a longer fighter there, and do something different,” added Melendez. “These 155ers are big. I can’t really push forward like I’d like to. I’m not scared to. I think at 145 I’ll be longer and able to impose my will more. That’s my goal.”
Stephens is ranked eighth in the featherweight division and will enter the fight coming off of a two-fight losing streak. Both fighters need a win and their styles make for an exciting fight, at least on paper.
UFC 215 is scheduled to be headlined by Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, who puts his flyweight title on the line against Ray Borg in an attempt to take sole possession of the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. He currently shares that distinction with Anderson Silva.