by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been a long, winding road for Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.

From promising up and comer, to being a top ranked fighter in his weight class, to a sudden fall and now a return to the top, Melendez has just about seen it all in his still relatively young career.

Yet through it all Melendez has remained a humble fighter, eager to give back to his community and share his love for MMA.

So when the opportunity came to host one of the sport’s legends at his own gym this Thursday, April 29, Melendez accepted.

“I want to bring awareness of what MMA is in San Francisco, and what better way to show what it is in this city than to bring in Frank Shamrock,” stated Melendez. “He’s one of the first real mixed martial artists who was an all-around fighter.

“He’s going to come out, do a seminar, show some stuff and let people know what it’s all about. I’m excited that he’s coming out and is helping me out with it.”

Originally set up for his own training, the El Nino Sports training center has grown into a full-time gym, with a roster of young, hungry talent, all under Melendez’s patronage.

“It’s new for me, so I’m getting used to being the leader,” stated Melendez. “Everyone’s a teammate, everyone has an equal say in a lot of stuff, so I get a lot of input (from others).

“I’m still getting used to it and I really like it. I’m trying to create some magic in the MMA world out here in the Bay Area.”

Melendez explains that it is imperative for him to give back to the sport and the community that has embraced him and given him much success.

“I love MMA,” he exclaimed. “It’s been a long road, but I love the sport and I want people to be exposed to it and experience it. It’s a great sport and I think it’s going to go a long way.”

Turning his attention towards his own career, Melendez is coming off his fourth straight victory recently over DREAM belt holder Shinya Aoki, and is eager to continue to prove himself the champion of champions.

“I wouldn’t mind fighting someone like K.J. Noons, who was an EliteXC champ,” said Melendez. “It’d be great to fight a champion from another organization as well.

“Maybe someone like ‘JZ’ (Gesias Cavalcante), who is in the Top 10, or Eddie Alvarez or maybe (Tatsuya) Kawajiri again. I know Scott (Coker, Strikeforce Promoter,) will come up with something good for me.”

With his career at an all-time high, Melendez now looks to give back to the community and wants people to come down and see what his vision is all about.

“Everybody go to GilbertMelendez.com or FDMBrand.com to get information,” he concluded. “I just want to thank everybody: my fans, my family, my girlfriend, all the sponsors that have really helped me, and my whole team.

“Everyone’s welcome to come down. The seminar is just 25 dollars to get on the mat, or if you want to just come down and feel the vibe, you can.”