Fightline.com Exclusive Interview: Gilbert Melendez
By Mark Wayne | April 13, 2010
Gilbert Melendez: Well, even though Dan Henderson is one of my favorite fighters, Jake Shields is like my brother and he's like family. You know, blood is thicker than water and Jake is family to me, so of course I'm rooting for Jake 100 percent. I mean, for us it's cool. It's a dream come true to see that. To me, Jake is a regular person and for him to be fighting a living legend, it's awesome. We kind of sit back and trip out and laugh on that because it's kind of cool. A guy we grew up on, Jake is fighting.
FightLine: I know that you have fought on the same card as your teammate Nick Diaz, and now you and Jake are appearing together on Saturday night's Strikeforce: Nashville card. Does it help you to fight on the same card as a teammate?
Melendez: Yeah it does man. I usually like Jake in my corner a lot and unfortunately he's not gonna be there. You know, [that adds] a little bit extra confidence but the fact that we're fighting on the same card this weekend, we get pumped up and we get the energy from each other and we look forward to it and everything. But I'd rather actually have him in my corner. At least I get to be in his corner.
FightLine: For sure. You and Jake are in a similar situation in that a lot of people have both of you as the underdog on Saturday night. You're taking on Shinya Aoki, one of the best lightweights in the world, and you aren't usually in the underdog position. Do you feel any extra pressure because of this?
Melendez: I actually like being the underdog, it's great. I'm fighting the number two ranked fighter in the world; I've got everything to gain here. But the more I look at it, people actually have a lot of confidence in me. I thought everyone thought I was going to lose originally but I'm pretty excited that actually a lot of people think I'm gonna win and come through with it. I think more pressure is on him. He's trying to put Japan on the line. "The MMA scene in Japan is on the line," is what he's saying in interviews. For me, I've got everything to gain here and I actually feel very confident in this fight and I think I've got what it takes to beat him.
FightLine: Absolutely. I was actually going to ask you if you feel like Aoki is putting too much pressure on himself. He made that comment in an interview that if he loses to you Japan will become a US MMA colony, so he seems to be carrying a lot of weight into this fight.
Melendez: Yeah, I mean, it's just crazy. MMA is definitely my career and I'm very proud of my accomplishments and I take pride in what I do and I work very hard at it, but it's not my life. For him it seems like he's putting his whole life and everything on the line. I'm lucky, you know? I got great friends, I got great family, and if I lose, I still have them there. I have a great girl; I've got all that stuff. I feel complete without fighting and I feel like he needs to do it to make himself feel complete, you know? And if he puts that pressure on himself and he doesn't come through then who knows where he's gonna be? It's possible and I think it's crazy that people do do that to themselves but I'm up for the challenge and I want to beat him.
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