Exclusive: Gilbert Melendez Expects January Return, Wants Ishida

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By Chris Howie
October 28th, 2008

Former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez will look to get back in the Strikeforce cage in January after taking time following his last fight to open his own gym to help further his training.

“The main reason I opened the new gym was so that I could get better training and get extra training. Not to make money off students and relax.” Melendez tells MMANews.com. “My whole goal is to look amazing in my next fight because I have no choice but to look in my next fight. I am going to take my time and I believe I will be fighting in January for Strikeforce.”

Melendez, who started his career with thirteen straight victories, first tasted defeated on New Year’s Eve 2007 in Japan when he lost a hard fought unanimous decicision to Mitsuhiro Ishida. He would follow that up with a strong performance against Gabe Lemley in March but would come back and lose the Strikeforce title in June against Josh Thomson that Melendez feels was not his best performances.

“I felt like I let myself down a little bit and the people around me but I kind of slacked on my last few training camps. I feel like I trained harder in the past and it showed in there.”

Many times, after a fighter loses after starting out on a long streak, it tends to help them, such as when Georges St. Pierre was KO'd by Matt Serra.

“It did affect me mentally because I love my job and I love my career. There is nothing better than going out there and feeling like you could fight forever and I want to get that feeling back. I feel like I have matured as a fighter from these past few fights.

With one fight remaining on his contract with Strikeforce, a win could make or break contract negotiations for Melendez. Performance will be key in this “contract fight” as the former champ would like to see what is out there for him on the MMA free agent market.

“I will do this next fight and see where I am at,” stated “El Nino”. “After that I will weigh out my options from there.”

Although there has been no talk of an opponent for Melendez yet, one fight that he has on his mind is a rematch with one of the latest additions to the Strikeforce roster, Ishida.

“Strikeforce did sign Ishida and I have been asking to get that fight and get that one back but I’m not sure if it will be that easy. It’s hard to say but I would love to fight Ishida again so we will have to wait and see what they want to do.”

Check back to MMANews.com tomorrow for a complete interview with Melendez in which he talks about what fighters are out there that he wants to fight, gives his thoughts on EliteXC shutting down, talks about his new gym and what he has going on with it and much more.

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