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· On The Spot ~ Gilbert Melendez

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 07/26 at 11:08 AM

Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is a Mexican American professional mixed martial arts fighter born and raised in Santa Ana, California. He attended Santa Ana High School and competed on the wrestling team. As a standout wrestler at Santa Ana High School, Melendez earned a scholarship to San Francisco State University (SFSU). It was at SFSU where Melendez first became exposed to mix martial arts (MMA). After meeting Jake Shields at the school, Melendez was encouraged to begin training Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) and MMA with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team.
As the sport of mixed martial arts continues to flourish during the second decade of its existence, it has given rise to a new pack of feisty, multi-dimensional combatants capable of defeating their adversaries in any of the numerous ways permitted. Melendez has been fighting since 2002, and after 17 professional bouts with a record of 15 wins, the 27-year-old rising start Gilbert Melendez is the quintessence of Generation Y’s offering to the world of mixed combat.

Gilbert continues to train extensively with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team, which includes top ranked welterweight BJJ black belt Jake Shields and other notable fighters, such as BJJ black belt Nick Diaz and TUF 5 champion Nate Diaz and Cesar Gracie. Additionally, Melendez has also affiliated himself with the Fairtex Gym in San Francisco where he has legendary world Muay Thai champion, Jongsanan Fairtex as his stand-up fighting trainer.

His nick-name “El Nino” was coined by the Japanese Shooto sports broadcasters who compared Gilbert’s fighting style to a storm--a storm that wipes out everything in its path. Top 143 lb. and 155 lb. Japanese fighters know this storm too well, as they were wiped out in its path, making Gilbert a favorite among the Japanese fan base.

Since his first encounter with the Octagon back in October 2002, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez has been Japan’s Shooto’s Number 1 contender at 143 Lbs. He has fought for Hawaii based organization, Rumble in the Rock, Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships, and was World Extreme CageFighting lightweight world champion, ranked top five in the world at 155. He has accomplished the task of becoming Strikeforce world lightweight champion, and is currently Strikeforce interim lightweight champion. Gilbert has also opened his own training center, the El Nino Training Center in San Francisco, where he is committed to becoming the best fighter possible and dedicating time training and mentoring up and coming young determined fighters.

(from GilbertMelendez.com)

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Melendez KOs DammSpot: How is training going for this upcoming fight with Josh Thompson?
Gilbert: It’s going great. I'm training hard and I am happy with it.

Spot: Have you changed anything about your training in preparation for this fight?
Gilbert: Yes, I have added more structure to the training camp. I have learned some new skills and improved some old ones. But most of all my motivation is there.

Spot: Many people saw you as a favorite in your first meeting. Did Thompson bring something to that fight that you were not expecting?
Gilbert: No! I fought his game; therefore, he came out the better fighter that night. I have trained with him before so I already knew that he was an amazing fighter.

Spot: Which means more coming into the fight, winning the Strikeforce title outright, or avenging the loss to Thompson?
Gilbert: My goal is to fight to my full potential and when I do I will be happy with the outcome.

Spot: Is Mitsuhiro Ishida still on your radar as well? Is that a fight you are still asking for?
Gilbert: Of course I would like to avenge that loss. I felt as though I did not fight to my best ability.

Spot: How is the new gym going?
Gilbert: I am happy with my gym. I live in the gym so I am never late to practice. I have great training partners and I am breeding a bunch of pit bulls here.

Spot: How does that work with training with Jake, up at Cesar's, Fairtex?
Gilbert: I still train with all my training partners and the gym does not get in the way of that.

Spot: Have you re-signed with Strikeforce? If so, how many more fights with them, and is it exclusive? Are you free to fight in Japan)?
Gilbert: Yes: I did re-sign a three fight deal with them. I believe if Scott gives it the okay it would not be a big deal if I fought in Japan.

Spot: At one point, you were ranked as the #2 lightweight in the world; what's it going to take to make it back to that spot?
Gilbert: Only time will tell. I do know I have to work endless hours and get back to fighting the top contenders.

Spot: With all the great lightweights out there today, do you have a dream list of guys you'd like to face in the future? Who? Why?
Gilbert: I have always dreamed of fighting fighters like Aoki, B.J. Penn, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk......I guess all the top contenders. I mention all of these fighters because they are great challenges. I know on a good day I could beat any one of them.

Spot: The Cesar Gracie team is riding a huge high right now, and has some of the best fighters in the sport, what has brought you guys to the top?
Gilbert: We are a real team. We started at the bottom together and have worked hard to get to the top together. It's plain and simple; we show up to training with no egos, practice hard, and we push each other as well as challenge one another.

Spot: Your father is really involved in your career. What does having him so close mean to you?
Gilbert: It means a lot having my father’s support. It is hard to find a trust worthy manager who has your best interest at heart. My father is that person.

Spot: What would you consider your career highlight?
Gilbert: My best career highlight was when Kawajiri dropped me in the first minute of our fight. I came back strong to overcome adversity and got the “W”. It was a war.

Spot: With Strikeforce gaining more and more of a following, do you think that they are viable competition to UFC? The past few Strikeforce events rival many of the pay-per-views that UFC is putting on.
Gilbert: If they keep putting on entertaining shows then I do not see why not.

Spot: Best guy you've rolled with?
Gilbert: Jake Shields

Spot: Best guy you've sparred with?
Gilbert: Jake Shields and Nick Diaz

Spot: Is 145 lbs still a possibility at this point in your career?
Gilbert: I feel like I conquered the 145 weight division. If they needed a fighter to step up to take on an unbeatable 145 pounder, I would consider it.

Spot: What's the toughest part about being a mixed martial artist?
Gilbert: The toughest part about being a MMA fighter is there is not enough time in the week to get all of the necessary training. There is always something a fighter needs to work on. The best part is knowing that there is no better high then stepping into the cage and letting it all out there.

Spot: How do you get away from the sport? How do you like to relax (hobbies)?
Gilbert: There is no time to get away from the sport, leaving no room for hobbies. When I do get a chance, I like to hang out with my loved ones doing various activities.

Spot: Would you like to thank any sponsors, trainers, friends, etc?
Gilbert: Yes, I would like to thank all of my training partners: Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and all of the Skrap Pack. Jongsanan Fairtex, my stand up trainer. All my loved ones that support me. Dethrone, Rockstar, & Cardiofactor.

Thank You for the support!
Gilbert Melendez


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