Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez has been responsible for one half of some of the greatest wars in the history of the 155-pound division, from Josh Thomson to Diego Sanchez and everyone in between.
But at what price?
It doesn’t matter, because “El Nino” doesn’t have time for weak thoughts about brain damage, which has continued to become more prevalent in recent discussions abut fighter health and safety, along with a few scary moments.
Melendez talks to MMA Fighting:
“I stand there and bang and guys who have beaten me have usually outpointed me, not really beat my butt. They stick and move or change their game plan. When there’s something down my Facebook feed or Twitter feed or about [CTE], I whiff right past it. I fight for my family, I fight for my team, and I fight for my future and that’s one thing that maybe it crosses my mind, but it’s something I have to put under right now. I can’t put that kind of weakness in my head at this moment.”
That doesn’t mean he can’t reinvent himself.
Melendez (22-6) will make his featherweight debut against fellow ex-lightweight Jeremy Stephens at the upcoming UFC 215 pay-per-view (PPV) event, set to go down on Sat., Sept. 9, 2017 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
More on that fight here.
After entering the Octagon on the strength of seven straight wins under the Strikeforce banner, the 35-year-old Melendez went just 1-4, though a handful of those losses were razor-thin decisions.
Does “El Nino” have a future at featherweight? Time will tell.