February 5, 2006; New York, NY….Undefeated prospect Gilbert Melendez (10-0) will square off with David Padilla (5-4) in a 150-pound limit matchup and fan favorite Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson (12-7-1) will do battle with Jorge “The Naked Man” Ortiz (7-2) in a 185-pound limit contest during “Shamrock vs. Gracie,” California’s historic first-ever mixed martial arts fight card that will take place at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on Friday, March 10th.
The all-star event will be highlighted by the long-awaited showdown between former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight king, Frank Shamrock (20-7-1), and undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Cesar Gracie (14-0) as well as the mixed martial arts debut of unbeaten world 185-pound limit San Shou kickboxing champion, Cung Le (16-0).
“I’m ready to fight year round so I’ll be 100 percent prepared for this fight,” said the red hot, 23-year-old Melendez, a protégé of both Gracie and legendary world Muay Thai kickboxing champion, Jongsanan Fairtex. Melendez’s well-rounded training may allow him to utilize both the strikes and submission holds that are core to the sport of mixed martial arts, but his preference for kicking and punching has been reflected in his bouts, all but one of which have ended with him stopping his opponent with bombs. “I use my jiu-jitsu just to get in a good position to strike and do some damage, not to submit. I’m looking for the punches all the time so I can hurt the guy.”
The sole occasion that Melendez was forced the distance of a fight came on December 14, 2004 when he faced Hiroyuki Takaya in Japan. It was a bout he accepted on only three weeks notice. “I had to drop a lot of weight in a short amount of time and, on top of that, the guy was tough,” said Melendez, who prevailed by way of unanimous judges’ decision.
Jackson’s start will be his first since July 19, 2003 when he was defeated at the hands of Tony Fryklund. The 39-year-old resident of East Palo Alto, California entered the world of mixed martial arts eight years ago as a rugged street brawler with no formal martial arts training. He has since evolved, adopting world-class trainers Javier Mendez and “Crazy Bob” Cook of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) as his mentors.
“Before, I went in there and it was just fun for me. Now, I look at it more like business,” said Jackson, whose new outlook on his fighting career has him running, on average, 24 miles per week and learning from not only his coaches, but also some of the sport’s top athletes that also call AKA their home. “I’m watching the best guys to see what they do and where they are so I know where I should be. AKA is the first complete gym I’ve ever been to. They have every type of coach and every type of fighter there is. If I had this type of environment all along, I would’ve had a belt years ago.”
Tickets for “Shamrock vs. Gracie” are officially on sale and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster (408-998-TIXS) outlets and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070). Fans can also purchase tickets by logging on to the official “Shamrock vs. Gracie” website, www.shamrockvsgracie.com, and clicking on the “Tickets” link where a ticket order form is located. All completed forms should be returned for processing to Ms. Julie Lin either via fax: 408-863-0153 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Ticket prices start at $30.
Doors to the event will open at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on March 10th. The first preliminary bout will begin at 6 PM.
The “Shamrock vs. Gracie” bill is being promoted and produced by Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment (SVSE, www.svse.net), a leading producer of major sporting and entertainment events and the exclusive producer of such events for San Jose, California’s largest entertainment arena, the HP Pavilion. SVSE’s many properties include “Miller Lite Fight Night,” world championship boxing; the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks; and the annual ATP men’s professional tennis “SAP Open” event.