UFC on FOX 7: Gilbert Melendez needs to beat Benson Henderson at the ‘mental game'

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

Gilbert Melendez has a tall task ahead of him in his UFC debut later this year when he challenges Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight championship in the main event of UFC on FOX 7. No one in the UFC has been able to defeat Henderson thus far, and if Melendez is going to be the first, he says he needs to beat the champ at the "mental game."

Gilbert Melendez (21-2) believes the key to defeating Benson Henderson (18-2) for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title at UFC on FOX 7 is fairly simple: edge out "Smooth" in the "mental game."

In the main event of the UFC's seventh network television event on FOX, scheduled for April 20, 2013, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., Melendez, the last Strikeforce lightweight champion in the organization's history, will make his UFC debut against Henderson will the belt on the line.

The 30-year-old plans to make a statement against Henderson and prove he is the No. 1 lightweight fighter on the planet. To do that, Melendez believes he needs to show to gain the physiological advantage over Henderson.

"He's a great wrestler, a great kicker, he's got great tactics, but most of all I have to be super focused," Melendez said on Friday's edition of "Inside MMA" on AXS TV. "I have to be mentally strong and I have to beat him at that mental game."

Easier said than done.

Nate Diaz, the last man to share the Octagon with Henderson who also happens to be a training partner of Melendez, is one of the most notorious fighters in mixed martial arts (MMA) when it comes to mental warfare in and out of the cage. Henderson was prepared, and even a mid-fight middle finger had no effect on Henderson, who battered Diaz for five consecutive rounds at UFC on FOX 5 last December.

Melendez enters the UFC with win seven consecutive victories, but has already been pegged as an underdog by most to the UFC champ. However, that only adds to the fire of "El Nino."

The Team Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu product has been eager to enter the Octagon for years. Now that the time has come, he doesn't feel the way he thought he would; however, he is supremely motivated and believes all the feelings of excitement for being in the UFC will hit him once his debut has passed and the UFC belt is around his waist.

"...Just knowing and having a title fight in the UFC, I'm motivated as heck. I want to run, I want to spar, I want to train," Melendez said. "Yeah, it's unbelievable that it's finally happening. I though I would be more excited when they said, ‘You're fighting for the UFC title.' More happy, but in fact I'm just a little different feeling. I'll be more happy when I win the title."

UFC on FOX 7: "Henderson vs. Melendez" goes down April 20, 2013, from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Along with Henderson vs. Melendez headliner, Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier makes his UFC debut against former heavyweight champion Frank Mir.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join MMAmania.com

You must be a member of MMAmania.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMAmania.com. You should read them.

Join MMAmania.com

You must be a member of MMAmania.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at MMAmania.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5349_tracker