by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Originally scheduled to face Shinya Aoki at Pride Bushido 13, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez was forced to withdraw from his fight due to an elbow injury. The Strikeforce lightweight champion is considered one of the most promising 155-pound prospects in MMA today and is currently ranked #10 on MMAWeekly’s top ten rankings for his weight class. The Cesar Gracie-trained fighter recently spoke with MMAWeekly to talk about his injury and potential fights in the future.

“I’m recovering. I had bursitis and it turned out that I ruptured my bursa sac so I was in pain for a while to the point where I couldn’t sleep,” explained Gilbert.

According to Orthopedics.com, bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa. A bursa provides a slippery surface that has almost no friction and is best thought of as a Ziploc bag with a small amount of oil and no air inside. Movement of an inflamed bursa is described as painful and irritating.

“I’m a little disappointed [about not fighting Aoki]. There’s no worries though,” said Melendez. “The time off might be good for me because I have a bunch of little lingering injuries. I’m starting to feel healthy; once I’m 100%, I’ll be ready to get right back on it.”

It was speculated that Melendez’s absence from the recent Bushido event was due to contractual issues between Strikeforce and Pride. When asked if there were problems between the organizations, Gilbert responded, “No, not at all. Strikeforce works with me very well and so does Pride. No problems at all.”

“El Nino” is tentatively scheduled to fight at the Strikeforce show on Dec. 8th. With the recent injury, Melendez is unsure if he will be able to participate and defend his lightweight title.

“I’m not sure if it’s going to happen. I’m still pretty hurt right now. I can’t verify anything,” said Melendez. “My manager is on it and we’re trying to work things out. We’re going to see how I feel in the next coming days.”

Although Gilbert’s elbow injury prevented him from fighting in the last Bushido, it didn’t stop him from attending the show. Sitting at ringside, Melendez watched as Shinya Aoki defeated his opponent. After the fight, Aoki got on the microphone to challenge Melendez, possibly at Pride’s New Year’s Shockwave show. Gilbert stepped onto the ring apron and gladly accepted.

“It would be a dream come true to be on that card,” elated Melendez. “If it works out, I’d definitely jump on it. Everything is in the works right now and I have nothing in writing. I’m just waiting on my manager to get back to me.”

Gilbert has already fulfilled one of his dreams when he made his debut in Pride. After an impressive first performance, Melendez expressed his interest in fighting Takanori Gomi for the Pride lightweight championship.

“I want it more now than ever. If I do fight in Japan, I believe it will be against Aoki first. If I can get by him then I definitely want Gomi.”