Gilbert Melendez: “There’s a Couple of Things I Do See and That I Want to Capitalize On”

April 18, 2013
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Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce 20Gilbert Melendez makes his long awaited UFC debut on April 20, fighting for the UFC lightweight title against champion Benson Henderson.

The last reigning Strikeforce 155-pound titleholder has fought in every major MMA promotion on the planet outside of the UFC.  He’s competed in the WEC, Rumble on the Rock, Shooto, PRIDE, and Strikeforce, but it wasn’t until he signed with the UFC that he’s received the recognition he’s deserved.

“It’s crazy.  I’ve done a lot in the sport.  Still, you don’t get the credit until you’re a part of the UFC brand.  I can already see it just walking the streets the power of the UFC brand,” Meledenz said in a recent interview with former Radio co-host Frank Trigg.

“It does feel good.  It feels good to get the respect. It’s a big milestone.  It’s quite an accomplishment just to say I’m fighting for the UFC title.  It will be even better to say I won it, but it is quite an accomplishment already,” he said.

Henderson (18-2) is arguably the toughest opponent Melendez has faced in his career.  He brings a diverse skill set and unparalleled conditioning.

“He doesn’t have the most devastating striking, the most devastating wrestling and grappling, but he transitions well and he’s a real mixed martial artist,” said Melendez about Henderson. “What he does best is he can put everything together really well.  A lot of guys are a little more predictable or do a certain strength and he’s a guy that puts it together.”

Melendez does feel he’s faces someone similar to Henderson three times before, Josh Thomson.

“I have been fighting Josh Thomson quite a bit.  He’s actually a guy like that as well, a real well-rounded mixed martial artist.  People usually have their strengths and Josh Thomson and him are guys that I feel are really good at putting it all together,” he said.

Melendez won’t know until he’s in the Octagon with Henderson at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20, but feels he sees some tendencies from Henderson that he can exploit.

“I can’t say I see his tells.  I usually get the feel while I’m out there.  I try to create reactions when I fight.  I try to make things happen,” said Melendez. “I try to make him bite, and I have my ideas to draw him into my fight, or to draw him into my fight.  But I do see some tendencies that he does, the way he circles, the way he plays with his hair.  There’s a couple of things I do see and that I want to capitalize on.

“You never really know until you lock horns with someone.  You know he has that good footwork.  You know he has that big kick.  You know he has that shot, but you don’t know when it’s coming.  The trick is to not be so scared of it, or wait for it.  People run away from the kick.  I’m not scared of the kick.  I’m not scared of the takedown.  I’m going to meet him head-on.”

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  • Ben Henderson is the GSP of the LW division. And I mean that in a positive way. Very well rounded, mixes things up smoothly and has a martial arts back round.

    • And gets the same type of criticism for not finishing fights any whatever other excuses people want to use to not like the guy.

      • Supaman

        but the difference b/w Bendo and GSP is that Bendo will go for it. He doesn’t play it safe or use lnp.

        Bendo has just fought some very very durable guys, but he’s been a finisher his whole career. You’re not going to finish every opponent, but Bendo will definitely try.

        • Yea he’s pretty much had every style fight out there. Wrestlers, durable fighters, strikers, and guys who can mix it up. Anyone specific you would like to see him up against? I can’t think of anyone off hand. Maybe Josh Thompson if he beats Nick Diaz in a serious manner. No offense to Gilbert of course.

          • Cptmats

            Aldo. !

          • Great choice. I’ll second that for sure. Aldo at 55 needs to happen. The guy just seems drained lately from the weight cut. I’d rather see him healthy and fully fueled at LW.

        • Cptmats

          If you go chasing the finish you will lose the decision !
          George has a good finish rate in three rounders but conserves in five round fights ! Its not that he can’t finish, it’s that he chooses not to because he’s is so scare of losing.
          IMO that’s his only flaw as a fighter.

  • Maddawgmar

    This is the chance for Gil to show the haters what he can do. He better take it and run with it.

    • Supaman

      true, Gil has a decent shot at pulling it off. It won’t be easy, but he has ALOT to gain and ALOT to lose. Majority of UFC fans are kinda dismissing him and totally sleeping on this guy, so a win would really show that he is the real deal. However, a loss would be terrible for him b/c then it’d just be another “i told you, so.”

  • tyrone

    Edgar beat bendo twice and lost through bad decisions of refs. How does this guy think he can win, when refs will cheat him like they did Edgar