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

UFC Fight Night 103 in Arizona adds three fights, including Court McGee vs. Ben Saunders

  • 28 days ago
  • 15 views

While the card still needs a main event, the UFC’s return to Arizona is quickly taking shape with three new matchups at UFC Fight Night 103.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Khalil Rountree vs. newcomer Tyson Pedro added to UFC Fight Night 101 in Australia

  • 28 days ago
  • 10 views

This month’s UFC Fight Night 101 lineup has a late addition.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC 205: Which Fights Are Being Overlooked Due to McGregorMania?

  • 26 days ago
  • 6 views

Conor McGregor knows how to maximize his time in the spotlight. From his ability to mastermind the most lucrative fights to his gift of gab, no fighter has been able to catch fans' eyes and retain th read news >>

Gilbert Melendez thinks Nate Diaz will fight UFC 205's McGregor vs. Alvarez winner

  • 26 days ago
  • 16 views

Gilbert Melendez echoes his colleagues who aren’t that upset Conor McGregor is getting a shot at Eddie Alvarez’s lightweight title.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

UFC 205 staff picks: With 3 title fights in New York, how many belts do we think will change hands?

  • 25 days ago
  • 33 views

Who are we picking on the main card for the historic UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York? Find out inside. Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Videos read news >>

UFC 205: Alvarez vs. McGregor Reduced to Five-Fight Main Card | MMAWeekly.com

  • 24 days ago
  • 31 views

After two fights fall off the UFC 205 lineup, the event will proceed on Saturday at Madison Square Garden with 11 fights featuring five main card bouts. read news >>

UFC 205's Yoel Romero says it's not up to Michael Bisping whether he fights for title

  • 24 days ago
  • 24 views

NEW YORK – UFC middleweight contender Yoel Romero said he hasn’t heard what champ Michael Bisping has to say about him, but he doesn’t put too much stock in it, anyway.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Alvarez vs. McGregor: Odds, Tickets, Predictions After Weigh-In

  • 23 days ago
  • 10 views

Any time Conor McGregor fights, it's huge news for the UFC. The Irish fighter is aware of his notoriety and plays it up every time he has a big fight. He will be stepping into the cage Saturday night read news >>

Khabib Nurmagomedov Decimates Michael Johnson (UFC 205 Results) | MMAWeekly.com

  • 23 days ago
  • 19 views

Second-ranked lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov extended his unbeaten streak to 24 fights on Saturday when he decimated sixth-ranked Michael Johnson at UFC 205. read news >>

With Miesha Tate's retirement, women's MMA loses a bridge between eras

  • 22 days ago
  • 27 views

After nine years and 25 fights, Miesha Tate called it quits following her unanimous-decision loss at UFC 205. How will we remember her? Hopefully as the gritty, determined fighter she was, and the on read news >>