by Tom Hamliin – MMAWeekly.com
Gilbert Melendez wants to set
the record straight with Josh Thomson.
It’s not the loss on his record
from their June fight that burns him – although losing’s never fun. In
the end, it was his performance that kept him up at night, making it all the
more easy to re-sign with Strikeforce when thoughts of moving elsewhere crossed
“In history, I want to go down
with a better performance than that. Even if I lose, I know I’m better than
what I did.”
That was in the back of his
head when the two spoke the weekend before news of a rematch at “Shamrock vs.
Gracie” broke. While the fight came as a surprise to Thomson – he wanted
to re-start their relationship as occasional training partners – Melendez
said he never ruled out a second meeting.
“I want to make things really
clear – I’ve only got one friend in the 155-pound weight division, and
that’s Nathan Diaz,” he told
MMAWeekly.com. “Josh is a training partner. Yeah, if I win this fight, and
he never wants to fight me again, we can (train together). If I lose this
fight, I’m not going to be very happy and I’m going to want to fight him again.
It’s just awkward, because he’s a good guy and I respect him, but at the end of
the day, I can’t be making friends with 155-pounders."
For now, any good feelings
towards Thomson will have to wait.
“Maybe some guys can hug and be
friends – it’s just not in my nature to do that and go fight a guy like
that,” he said. “I’ve gotta get some aggression towards him and want to hate
him. It’s nothing personal, but that’s just how you’ve gotta
to be. At least I have to be, to pull out the beast.”
Prior to their first bout,
Thomson laid bare his problems with an injured shoulder that would make him
less than 100 percent for the fight. But when “Melendez vs. Thomson” rolled
around, he turned in a stellar performance that saw him dominate the
then-lightweight champion. Melendez struggled to sync his rhythm with Thomson’s
At the press conference for the
April 11 event, Thomson appeared none too happy with the idea of getting ready
for a second encounter.
“I’m actually dreading this
fight,” he said.
But Melendez wasn’t swayed by
Thomson’s professed hesitancy.
“I don’t play into that,” he said. “I know
he’s being really cool right now and everything, but I can’t let that
(expletive) get in my way right now. As far as I’m concerned, he wants to kill
me just as bad, he’s healthy, he’s perfect, and by the time he gets in there,
he’s going to be smiling like he always does, ready to go. I’m taking
everything as a game, like he’s trying to work his angles. Everything is
strategy. Even if it’s not, I’m treating it like it is.”
Though both fighters agree that
another five-round war is ahead, Melendez says he’ll be more ready for it this
“More than anything, you’re
going to see a guy that’s in better shape, and not looking as flat, and someone
motivated to be in there,” he said. “I’ve got a couple tricks in my sleeve,