“It may become tough to stick to a game plan,” he told MMAjunkie Radio. “I would love to fight in Mexico, and I see the doors opening up there. I’ve only been to Mexico City once, but I went to the pyramids out there, and you see your roots. I didn’t really learn that in high school. You see your roots, where your blood is from and everything.
“I’m a proud American, but also, I’m proud of my roots and just being there, I felt a good energy. If I’m fighting, and it’s live, and I’m in front of my people, I think I would probably get caught in the moment. It might be a positive for me.”
On his home turf of Northern California, Melendez is pretty good at firing up a crowd. His work for the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion, including his famous title trilogy with lightweight Josh Thomson, is one example of a fighter peaking in front of an audience. But he’s also sent the crowd into a frenzy in the UFC, delivering a Fight of the Year candidate against Diego Sanchez at this past fall’s UFC 166 event.
Melendez’s dominant performance in that fight, as well as a narrow decision loss to now-former champ Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 7, won him another shot at the belt against Pettis as well as a coaching spot opposite the champ on “The Ultimate Fighter 20,” which debuts this fall.
Melendez will focus on his coaching abilities as the season plays out, and afterward, he’ll move into training camp for Pettis, who is returning from a long injury layoff.
Opposite title challenger Fabricio Werdum, UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez is headlining the UFC’s first event in Mexico, UFC 180. But you can bet if Melendez is able to beat Pettis, the promotion will want to utilize him south of the border.
Melendez might need to wear headphones in order to translate reporter’s questions, but he would do most of his talking in the cage.
“You might get the best side of me,” he said. “But I love that moment in general, whether it’s in Las Vegas or California, when you get in that spot, you get fired up. The fans have a lot to do with that.”