by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com

On New Year’s Eve, Pride Fighting Championship fans will get one last<br /> taste, as the Saitama Super Arena will once again be fill

On New Year’s Eve, Pride Fighting Championship fans will get
one last taste, as the Saitama Super Arena will once again be filled for an
action packed night of mixed martial arts. The event, deemed Yarennoka!, will
feature MMAWeekly’s No. 3 ranked lightweight, Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez
against No. 9 ranked Mitsuhiro Ishida.


Melendez was last seen at the Strikeforce event at the
Playboy Mansion back in September, defeating Tetsuji Kato via unanimous
decision. MMAWeekly Radio caught up with Melendez recently to discuss his


“Everything is good,” said the undefeated fighter. “I’m
excited to get out there and get back in there and do what I like to do and


When he fought Kato, he had dominated the first round of the
fight before suffering a broken hand. According to Melendez, the hand is now


“My hand is doing good. I tape it up. As far as I know, a
really good tape job holds it together. I did hurt it pretty bad in my fight.
It was a break. But it healed up real well. I’m ready to go.”


Mitsuhiro Ishida, who is a very strong wrestler, has been
out of commission since New Year’s Eve of last year, where he succumbed to a
loss early in the first round to Takanori Gomi. Melendez is hoping the long
layoff will have a diverse effect on Ishida.


“I hope so. I think that’s an advantage for me because he
hasn’t fought in a year,” he explained. “I’m not anticipating for him to have
ring rust. I think it’s definitely an advantage that he hasn’t been in there.”


Ishida’s strong wrestling skills have helped him become a
successful mixed martial artist. However, if the takedowns can be stopped,
Melendez believes that’s how you defeat Ishida.


“I think that’s how you stop that guy. You stop his shot,
take him down or stuff him and knock him out. That’s definitely gonna be my
game plan.”


With Melendez getting back into the swing of things, he’s
excited to get back in the ring and fight again. He was sidelined for a while
after Pride was sold to the Fertitta brothers. This will be his second fight
of the year and he is looking forward to fighting on a regular basis once


“I felt like I was unemployed. Like a loser. I was
definitely depressed. I’m excited again. I plan on fighting again in March
and then the next Strikeforce show.”


In the next Strikeforce show, it is likely that the highly
anticipated match up between Melendez and Josh Thomson will finally come to
fruition. While he is excited about that possible match up, he isn’t letting
his mind wander far from the task at hand.


“Right now I’m just worried about Ishida. I eat, sleep and
breathe Ishida.”


He is ready for war and is not afraid to push the pace.
He’s notorious for his endless cardio, relentless attack and strong wrestling.
One thing is for sure, it’s hard to find Melendez in a boring fight. While his
last few fights have gone to decision, they’ve all been action packed fights
and Melendez doesn’t believe this fight will be any different, with the
exception of him finishing the fight.


“You can expect a high paced, entertaining fight from me,”
he exclaimed. “I haven’t had a finish in a while. I’m going for the kill.
I’m going to be aggressive. I’m trying to bring you guys the fight of the