*EXCLUSIVE* GILBERT MELENDEZ INTERVIEW
By: John "JR" Houck
He's a top three Lightweight in the world, ranging from #1 to #3 depending on where you look. Gilbert Melendez has made it known that he wants to be the recognized as the absolute best Lightweight in the world. HACNews.com's JR recently had a chance to catch up with "El Nino" to find out what's next for this rising star and get his thoughts on numerous topics including which Lightweight fighters he'd really like to fight, and he doesn't hold back.
JR also goes in-depth with Melendez in our popular segments of Word Association, True or False, and Get2Know to give the fans a little more information about him that they may not have known.
JR: This is JR with a HACNews.com exclusive interview with Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Gilbert how are you? You healthy and injury free?
GM: Dude I’m super and feeling good. I did hurt my hand a little in the last fight, but the fight just felt like another day of sparring practice, just happened to hurt my hand a little.
JR: What's your Strikeforce contract currently look like, how many fights?
GM: Umm, I got a couple of fights with them we’re talking right now but I’m happy with Strikeforce and the way they’ve treated me. I’m happy to be their Lightweight Champion and we got good things going.
JR: You recently were at the Strikeforce event at the Playboy mansion in which you took a decision against Kato. First of all how was that experience?
GM: The experience, it was the first time I had a fight where I was really suppose to win and that added a little pressure but I think I handled it fine. I didn’t get to enjoy the party as much but I did get to hang out and enjoy everything.
JR: What was Hugh Heffner like?
GM: You know I didn’t even get to meet the guy. I think he went to bed before the main event, which was me. So I didn’t get to check him out or nothing.
JR: Yeah, he is getting on up there, nap time probably comes early.
GM: Exactly, he is getting up there.
JR: But he is doing what we young cats are trying to do, a different woman every night.
GM: Yeah he’s definitely number one.
JR: How was the after party, any good details you can share?
GM: You know I rarely talk about those but yeah there was a party. Hung out with Jake Shields and Tracy from Napkin Nights. Some of my boys from Santa Anna.
JR: You're in every major MMA site's top three Lightweight rankings and in most top ten pound for pound lists. Where would you rank yourself in the Lightweight division right now?
GM: You know it’s really tough because there are about 15 guys that, on any given day, could be number one. I think I put my work in and I’ve proven a lot. I put myself between 5 and 8.
JR: Most fighters immediately say that they should be number one on that question, so great answer.
GM: yeah I’m shooting for number one but I’m not close yet.
JR: Who do you feel is your biggest threat in Strikeforce?
GM: Josh Thomson. He’s the toughest guy there. I spar with him and he’s a cool guy. He’s experienced and very tough. It’s going to be an exciting fight, whenever it happens.
JR: Are there any fighters anywhere that you really want to fight?
GM: Oh yeah, definitely, a few of them. I want to fight Sean Sherk, "JZ" Calvacanti, Hayato Sakurai, and Takanori Gomi. Oh and also Shinya Aoki.
JR: Those sound like they could be fight of the year.
GM: Oh definitely. Even if I lose I want to be able to put on a good show. You know I want to fight and go for the win.
JR: Does it put any added pressure on you to stay undefeated or is that zero just a number?
GM: I don’t care, I got to win because people expect me to win and beat everyone’s butt. I just care about putting in my best effort.
JR: You just fought a month ago but is there any date and/or event for your next fight or possible opponents?
GM: I can’t talk much about it but it should be in December and that’s all I’m allowed to say right now. Nobody else knows that right now. You guys are the first.
JR Breaking news, alright.
GM: Anything to help a guy out. [laughs]
JR: Can you give us your take on steroids? Like what they are doing to the sport and the people using them.
GM: You know um, it’s kind of hard to talk about. You know people do what they got to do. I fight in California and they test me. They watch me do it and I test clean. You know that’s all I got to say, I pass mine but everyone else does all they got to do. I DO NOT use them.
JR: Have you ever tried steroids when you were younger as experimental?
GM: I had to pass the pee test so I couldn't do it man, so no, never.
JR: Has UFC offered you a contract yet?
GM: I talked to them. I think they want me. You know but I got some commitments right now. I really want to fight for them so I can fight [Sean] Sherk.
JR: What do you think about the title situation with [Sean] Sherk?
GM: Uhh, I don’t know it’s hard to say you know? He tested positive but people say he didn’t do it or the result was low. I don’t know, you know, but he is a great fighter and I hope everything gets worked out. I would hate to not get to see him defend his title again against BJ or Joe Daddy.
JR: If he gets stripped and those two fight for the title who do you see taking it?
GM: You know BJ is the best fighter out there in shape. He has the capability of being the best Lightweight or Welterweight out there. But Joe Daddy has been looking hungry and very good lately. So it could go either way.
JR: What is your career defining moment?
GM: The Kawajiri fight, the one on New Year’s Eve where he knocked me on my butt. I was able to work through it and win the fight. I had always wanted to be able to do that and I did it and it was a great moment, personally, for me. I had never been caught like that before and getting up was big for me.
JR: What is your best performance in your mind?
GM: The Clay Guida fight. I was ready and had a lot riding on that. He was coming off the win over [Josh] Thomson so I knew he was a cardio freak. It was definitely a fight I could not lose.
JR: What are your credentials wrestling wise and what belt are you in Jiu-Jitsu?
GM: I’m a purple belt in Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve beat some black belts and brown belts and other stuff. I also competed in Abu-Dhabi. My wrestling credentials, I wrestled in high school and a little bit at state. But lately I’ve been training with some national champions.
JR: Nick Diaz
GM: Genuinely loves fighting
JR: Takanori Gomi
GM: I look up to him as a fighter
JR: Sean Sherk
GM: Tough fighter, but I bet I could beat him
JR: BJ Penn
GM: Pioneer, freak of nature
JR: President Bush
GM: Don’t care for the guy
JR: War in Iraq
GM: Can’t stand it, I think it’s horrible.
JR: Playboy bunnies
GM: Got to love them
JR: Nate Diaz
GM: Great friend, great partner, love the guy
JR: Diego Sanchez
GM: A latino cat with a lot of heart so I really support him. He’s great.
JR: Roger Huerta
GM: Another well rounded tough latino dude, so I support him as well
JR: "JZ" Calvacanti
GM: Tough guy great attitude. Makes for a good fight
JR: David Terrell
GM: The Soul Assassin. I Miss seeing him in the cage. His fight with [Ed] Herman is going to be good.
True or False
JR: Gilbert Melendez fell in love at the Playboy mansion.
JR: Gilbert Melendez would beat Takanori Gomi worse than Nick Diaz did.
GM: So True
JR: Gilbert Melendez loves video games.
Get2Know Gilbert (A series of questions unrelated to MMA)
JR: What was the most emotional time of your life not MMA or fight related?
GM: I guess moving from Southern California and being independent. It got rough from 18-20.
JR: If you could plan out your perfect day, what would you do from the time you woke up until the time you went to sleep?
GM: I would wake up, hopefully with a beautiful girl, then shower. I would eat a good breakfast, then train, then go out and party, and come back and relax with my friends.
JR: What makes Gilbert Melendez mad more than anything else in the world, again not MMA related?
GM: Disrespecting my friends and my loved ones.
JR: Any certain Hollywood leading lady you would like to take on a date and end up spooning with?
GM: Jessica Alba would be nice.
JR: I get her and Jessica Biel a lot.
GM: Yeah either of those would be nice.
JR: What Type of music really gets you amped?
GM: Not really a certain type of music, but like Eminem and Rage Against the Machine, certain songs from them pump me up.
JR: You ever been involved with one of the Sai fights with Nate and Nick?
GM: I've been there when it happened but I’ve never actually been in one. Nah, that’s too much, I try to stay out of trouble.
JR: What do you think of Din Thomas and the "underground fight club"?
GM: I heard about that today. I think it’s crazy that he was arrested. It’s something stupid to have jail time and stuff for. He was just having some fights, you know? Too bad you have to go through the sanction and everything to do that though.
JR: Any sponsors, websites, or anything you would like to mention? Or anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go?
GM: Yeah, I'd like to thank Combative Apparel, Dominance on the Mat, and Fairtex. Also check out my MySpace account. Oh and I'd like to thank my friends and family from Santa Anna.
JR: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview Gilbert. Have a good one and good luck in your forthcoming endeavors.
GM: Yeah, definitely good to meet you man.