Gilbert Melendez is the current Strikeorce Lightweight Champion. After unifying the belts in the end of 2010, he's swept through the Strikeforce lightweight ranks, defeating top contender after top contender. "El Nino" is coming off a close decision victory over rival Josh Thomson earlier this year and he'll be trying to cement his status as one of the best 155-pounders in the world with a strong showing next week.
Pat Healy is a serious veteran of the sport despite still being relatively young and it's been a long time coming for him. He's done nothing but impress since making the permanent move down to lightweight in Strikeforce, defeating top prospect after top prospect in the division. After knocking off Caros Fodor in March, he squeaked by top Japanese lightweight Mizuto Hirota to earn his shot at the belt. He'll be trying to bring some gold back to Team Quest.
We'll have live updates of the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy conference call after the jump:
Brian Hemminger here. The conference call is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET.
3:10 p.m. - we're finally getting started.
Pat Healy: The UFC is still the top promotion out there. I didn't feel slighted with talk of Gilbert Melendez going there. There's tons of good lightweights in Strikeforce to keep the champion busy.
Pat Healy: I work with a sports psychologist and guys like Michael Jordan and TIger Woods train the mental game. I think it's a big part of the game.
Gilbert Melendez: I don't pay attention to the favorites so much but people are telling me about it. I appreciate the confidence from the bookies. They usually get it better than the rankings and the journalists. I take it as a compliment. I think I am favored to win.
Gilbert Melendez: I think I plateaued a bit. I tried to point out my weaknesses and when you're the champ, it's hard to do that to yourself. I'm blessed with a really cool job and want to have a good time with it. Pat likes to come forward and fight. He's old school, I'm old school. I like that.
Pat Healy: I took no time off from my last fight. I was out helping B.J. Penn helping him get ready for his fight and I'm ready. I've fought five rounds twice before in my career and I'm focused on that aspect of the game and putting that together. I'll be ready for that fight.
Gian Villante: 205 is definitely a natural fit for me. I was a wrestler my whole life and it doesn't bother me too much. I feel I perform better there.
Guto Inocente: It'll be great to have a teammate on the card with me.
Gilbert Melendez: My boy Jake Shields was picked to lose by the media and the lines were with him so that's what I meant. I think I'm up there. It used to be a bigger concern of mine but not so much nowadays. If need be, I can go back to 145 and be top there now.
Gilbert Melendez: I don't think it was my best performance. Thomson is a tough guy. I put my life on the line out there to put on a show so that kind of hurt. Josh is a tough dude and I may have to fight him again if he keeps winning. I'm just trying to move forward and get better. I'd be up for a fourth fight against him. I'm definitely not scared of that fight.
Gilbert Melendez: Pat's a really good wrestler and grappler. He's got great submissions and he can take a hit. He's an underrated guy overall to the common people. I think he's a really good mixed martial artist. He's a big guy and yu don't want a big guy like that on top of you grinding away looking for submissions. That's where he's the strongest.
Gilbert Melendez: Pat's a tough guy. I've got mad respect for him. You try to get the biggest match for yourself. The paycheck and family keep me motivated. I want to stay relevant in the sport. This is a good job I have. I want to keep excelling, get security in life and fighting helps me do that. You can't lose and expect a pay raise.
Gilbert Melendez: I've got Jake Shields and if anyone can replicate size, it's Jake. No one's stronger than Jake Shields. No one has a body lock like Jake Shields and no one is a grinder like Jake Shields. I'm lucky to have such great sparring partners and I feel ready.
Gilbert Melendez: I'm not a stick-and-mover. I move forward. Speed will be a factor but it won't be the biggest factor.
Pat Healy: I'm usually not a very quick starter. That's something I worked really hard on in this training camp. I'm a slow starter. I don't attribute it to anything but I've been working on it for this fight. Gil pushes a good pace but I'm pretty big. If I can get my weight on him early, that'll make a difference in the later rounds.
Scott Coker: Pat has earned his way, the shot wasn't just gifted to him. He's on a five fight win streak and he's a big lightweight that's gonna be a great match-up for Gilbert.
Gilbert Melendez: I haven't brought anyone special in but we have people come by all the time. Josh Neer came by and Pablo Garza stopped by. I got some good looks. I was heads up with Nate Diaz sparring boxing. He was Andre Ward's sparring partner for the Chad Dawson fight. I've got an elite group of people. There's a great group of youngsters in the scrap pack already. I've got a great team and we try to keep our training secrets within.
Gilbert Melendez: People ask me if I can make 145 and I can make it, that's all. I'm up for everything. I'm up for excitement in my career. Just never want to rule anything out.
Gilbert Melendez: I think Josh Thomson and Jorge Masvidal and Pat Healy can beat a lot of guys in the UFC. We've just got to keep fighting and grinding and proving it. I'm proud to be a part of Strikeforce in the 155 division and I'm proud to be the champ in the 155 division. I think we can beat a lot of the guys in the UFC, a lot of them.
Scott Coker: We've put on some great fights and the ratings are great. Strikeforce delivers in all those categories.
Gilbert Melendez: It's hard to train hard without getting injured. You've got to cross your fingers and sometimes that stuff just happens. The sport is just brutal. You can plan on fighting four times a year but you get hurt. It's a lot of wear and tear on the body. You can't think about it. The more you think about it, the more it happens.
Pat Healy: There's no way to prevent it. You've got to train and hope it doesn't happen and hopefully get there 100 percent.
Gilbert Melendez: You can't be showing someone your goods and helping them improve and show your true potential thinking you're helping someone out when there's potential you could fight them someday.
Pat Healy: Being an underdog is a motivating factor. I think I've been an underdog in pretty much every fight I've had. I'm over trying to get the media's respect. I've always done well in that situation and it takes the pressure off.
That's a wrap folks. Thanks for stopping by!