"I'm ready as heck, and I'm so happy it's happening," Melendez recently told MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMA Radio, UFC Radio - MMAjunkie Radio
). "I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity. I've had 13 weeks' notice for a camp, and that's the longest I've ever had for a fight."
To prepare for Henderson, a bigger lightweight than Melendez, he bulked up a little while adding some muscle. That, he believes, will make the weight cut a little more difficult than normal these past few days before the fight.
But the payoff may be worth it.
"It's tailor-made for Benson," he said. "He's definitely a strong guy, and you can see it out there. I've seen it firsthand. He has those big legs. He's shredded. He's a huge 155-pounder. I knew it was necessary. I wouldn't say I put on that much muscle, but a good extra three pounds. I feel more shredded – I feel more durable, and I want to be able to take his kicks and take the punishment. It also helped me stay more durable during my training camp."
That durability may come in handy. Henderson has gone 25 minutes for three straight title fights – two against Frankie Edgar and his most recent win, a unanimous decision and dominant win over frequent Melendez training partner Nate Diaz.
But Melendez is no stranger to the championship rounds. Four of his past five have gone the full five rounds. He also has what he hopes is a slight advantage from watching Diaz from just a few feet away – a bird's-eye view of Henderson for five full rounds.
"I'm at peace right now," he said. "Sometimes you have doubt in your mind. 'Should I have run? Should I have done that? Should I have not done this?' I know I've done everything possible to get ready for this. It's a weight off your shoulders and it gives you some sort of confidence. I know I can go 25 minutes nonstop right now, so I feel good about that."