Gilbert Melendez Fights Benson Henderson for More Than the UFC Title


GilbertMelendez6X8J0102UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez says there’s no added pressure to win heading into his UFC on Fox 7 title bout with champion Benson Henderson, but the stakes are high and what’s on the line is more than simply a title.

Melendez, the last Strikeforce lightweight titleholder, has lobbied for years to get a shot in the UFC.  Regarded as the best lightweight to have never fought in the Octagon, Melendez has spent the last seven years in Strikeforce.  Contractual champion clauses kept him from making his long awaited debut, until now.

Melendez has been ranked in the top five for years.  In 2006, Melendez first cracked the top five, when Henderson had only one professional fight.  The April 20 title fight is a champion vs. champion match-up, but Melendez feels like the challenger.

“I feel like I am somewhat of a challenger and walking into new territory.  It’s a whole new organization, different type stage.  Ben Henderson is the champ in the UFC,” said Melendez on a media conference call promoting the event.

Henderson, in his last fight, defeated Melendez’s friend and long-time training partner Nate Diaz by unanimous decision.  Melendez cornered Diaz that night, and has been itching for the opportunity to avenge his teammate’s loss.

“When your buddies fight you can’t help but get a little emotional out there and passionate.  You’re bummed for your friend when he fights and if you can back your friend up you will.  At that point I was like give me the opportunity to avenge my friend.  Give me the opportunity to fight this dude.  I can do it,” he said.  “That was kind of going through my head, and I was just licking my chops hoping to get the opportunity, and I did.”

Melendez trains out of the Cesar Gracie camp, as well as his own gym, El Nino Sports, and the Fairtex Gym.  Many of his Cesar Gracie training partners have had UFC title fights and all of them have come up short.  A Cesar Gracie fighter has fought for a UFC title on six different occasions, and were defeated all six times.

Given the team’s title fight track record, Melendez would like to be the one to bring home UFC gold.

“I hope to win the title for my team, but I really try not to put too much pressure on myself.  I go out there and fight and fight my fight,” he said.

“I think it’s a great accomplishment for my whole team just to even get title fights.  Not many teams can say that.  Dave Terrell, Gil Castillo, Nick (Diaz), Jake (Shields), and Nate (Diaz) have all had title fights.  That’s great for our team.  If anything, it’s an accomplishment for our team.  But I’d love to be able to bring that title back to the gym and share it with those guys.”

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • a day ago
  • 1 views

Benson Henderson has been slated to face Eddie Alvarez in the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 59 at TD Garden on Jan. 18 in Boston, Mass, according to UFC officials Wednesday. Henderson (21-4) is co read news >>

  • 25 days ago
  • 105 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis, isn't short on confidence as he heads into his first-ever title defense against Gilbert Melendez, which is set to serve as t read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 1 views

Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez will look to rebound from recent losses in a meeting at UFC Fight Night 59, the BostonHerald.com reports.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 1 views

Ultimate Fighting Championship is stacking the deck for its Jan. 18 event in Boston, as Benson Henderson will fight Eddie Alvarez in lightweight action. read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 0 views

Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez will meet at UFC Fight Night Boston on Jan. 18 card, officials confirmed on Wednesday. read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 3 views

The UFC's brass obviously has no plans of easing former Bellator MMA champ Eddie Alvarez into the mix in its stacked lightweight division. Roughly a month after watching him drop his promotional debu read news >>

  • 11 hours ago
  • 6 views

UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is ready to prove he’s more accessible to U.S. fans than his name might indicate.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, Videos read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 0 views

Stream or download Wednesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Gilbert Melendez, Chad Laprise and Jesse Taylor.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 19 views

UFC featherweight Conor McGregor's win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 178 was, by all accounts, impressive and important. According to UFC President Dana White, it could also be just the thing that puts read news >>