by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This weekend’s Strikeforce show in San Jose has been labeled “Revenge” in honor of its main event rematch between Alistair Overeem and Vitor Belfort, but that might not even be the best match-up on the card.
Possibly outshining the main event is a feature bout for the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship between current title-holder Clay Guida and the undefeated Gilbert Melendez. With both fighters likely to push the pace, it could very well end up being the evening’s signature bout.
“I feel good. I feel really confident,” Melendez told MMAWeekly about the upcoming match. “I feel good at 155 pounds, and I feel like it’s going to be an intense scrap. I love to fight. I’m ready to do it.”
Both Guida and Melendez fought this past March on the inaugural Strikeforce show, which broke the attendance record for MMA in North America. Melendez has repeatedly watched Guida’s impressive performance against UFC and Pride veteran Josh Thomson in preparation for the fight this weekend.
“I’ve seen it a million times. I’ve watched it over and over,” exclaimed Gilbert. “I was definitely impressed with him. He dominated on the ground, and it wasn’t a fluke win against Josh. I think I’m a better all-around fighter and that I can expose some weaknesses he has.”
Melendez continued, “I’ve got a gameplan for every situation. I’ve got a gameplan if I’m on my back, a gameplan if I’m on top, a game plan if I’m on my feet… I’m ready for everything. I’m just going to go out there and fight, and whatever happens, I’ll be prepared for it.”
While Melendez is happy to be getting an opportunity to fight for the Strikeforce title, it’s not the only belt that he has been targeting this year. For some time, Melendez had been ranked as the top contender for the Shooto title, but a title fight never materialized.
“There hasn’t been any progress on the Shooto situation,” said Gilbert with some dejection. “I don’t really see myself going back to 143.5 pounds, but I definitely want to see Pequeno [Alexandre Franca Nogueira] in the future in the ring with me.”
Melendez added, “I put my time in for Shooto. They did me well. I’m pretty sure they would have given me a title shot if Pequeno was ready for it, but now my time is at 155 pounds. I’m just going to have to go on with my career and reach my goals at 155 pounds, which is to be the best 155-pound fighter in the world.”
As for where he sees himself after this weekend’s fight, Gilbert confidently stated, “After this weekend, I see myself as the Strikeforce Champion, beating a very tough competitor. From then on out, I’m going to establish myself as a top ten 155-pound fighter. That’s my goal. I just want to get in there and be respected by everyone, and have no questions asked about me being in the top ten.”
Melendez concluded, “Thank you to the fans for all the support. Keep supporting me. I’m going to keep doing everything I can to win. I also want to thank Jake Shields for helping me out, and the guys who’ve been training with me like Nathan Diaz a lot, too.”