Melendez: Elbows Always in My Arsenal

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 15, 2011
When Gilbert Melendez used elbows on the ground to finish Tatsuya Kawajiri in April, it was like a breath of fresh air for the Strikeforce lightweight champion. Prior to the UFC’s purchase of Strikeforce earlier this year, elbows on the ground were not allowed by the California-based promotion. With the unified rules of mixed martial arts suddenly in place, “El Nino” had a new weapon at his disposal. Melendez -- who defends his title against Jorge Masvidal at Strikeforce “Melendez vs. Masvidal” on Saturday at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego -- said that remembering to use them was not as difficult as it might seem during a pre-fight teleconference:

“All my teammates train with elbows. Jake [Shields] was a pioneer in ground-and-pound with elbows, so elbows have always been something in the back of my mind. Even in training, in my mind I was thinking, ‘I can elbow this guy right now.’ It wasn’t just because Strikeforce didn’t allow elbows that I ruled it out. I’ve always had it in my arsenal, and it’s something that’s always come naturally to me with my ground-and-pound. I’m happy they’re there because elbows are real effective. Sometimes, they cut people and end fights early, but I showed I can actually end fights with elbows. I used to fight in Hawaii [and] in Pride [Fighting Championships] with foot stomps and knees to the head. I like to do all that stuff, so I’m happy with the elbows, and I love the unified rules. It’s fun to have those.”
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