Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez has long been considered one of the best 155’ers in the sport, but the Cesar Gracie-trained 28-year old believes that he is the best and during a recent appearance on Sherdog Radio Network’s Savage Dog Show, he explained why the climate is right for him to prove it.
“I think the sky’s the limit now,” Melendez said, in reference to the recent purchase of Strikeforce by UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC. “Now it’s on me. I’ve been doing a lot of talking and campaigning that I’m number one. Now if I deliver, if I put on some shows, not only win but entertain and reach out to all my fans, I think the sky’s the limit.”
For Melendez, championing himself as the best in the division in the world is a kind of forced motivation; he’s told everyone he’s the best and, now that he’s drawn some eyes, he feels obligated to deliver.
“I willingly put this extra pressure on myself,” Melendez said. “I’m the type of guy who was raised to do his talking in the cage … but sometimes in this business you have to do some talking outside to get heard. I’m trying to do my talking without being obnoxious, but I really feel like I am the number one guy. I’m going to campaign it. I’m going to put the pressure on myself and try to walk the walk.”
The UFC-Strikeforce merger puts Melendez that much closer to becoming widely recognized by the casual fans as a result of the UFC’s watertight promotional team. The rest of the work is his, but Melendez has no other plans than to deliver on his word.
“I just kind of felt I was going to be under the radar of many fans, and now with the UFC buying us out, I think I’ll be on the radar of plenty of fans,” Melendez said. “Strikeforce or UFC, either organization I’m fighting for, just the fact that I have them behind me, [I’m] going to be out there.”
Melendez will defend his lightweight strap this evening at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California against Tatsuya Kawajiri in the co-main event of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley.