Gilbert Melendez didn’t exactly look forward to fighting Josh Thomson for a third time, but after pulling out a split decision to win the trilogy, he thinks he’ll be more excited for his next Strikeforce lightweight title defense.
“It’s a little tough getting up for these fights but more tough getting up for Josh Thomson, a real tough guy and a guy that you never look forward to fighting and you’d thought you’d moved passed it,” Melendez told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “I’m just glad that’s over with. But someone like [Pat] Healy, I think that could be pretty interesting.”
Healy, who has won four straight, could be Melendez’s next opponent. There have also been rumors that a challenger from the UFC could cross over to Strikeforce.
“That would be great, and maybe it will happen,” Melendez said. “Maybe it will happen. I just can’t be worrying about it too much or let it get to me too much. I just have to continue to work hard and do my thing. But it would be really cool if for some reason the fight gods decided to send someone over for me that gets us real motivated and makes the fans real excited and gets people interested in seeing it.”
Melendez is in a tough spot. He’s ranked No. 3 in the world, but most of the best lightweights are in the UFC. In Strikeforce he could be left fighting opposition not quite at his level, putting him in a situation where he gets criticized even after wins.
“As of now I’m just going to have to deal with the criticism,” Melendez said. “I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t in my situation right now. I don’t even want to preach that I’m the number one fighter in the world anymore. I just want to go do my thing in Strikeforce, and if somehow that opportunity comes up where I can prove it and fight some of the top talent, then I’m definitely up for it. But as of now, I’m going to be doing my thing here. I’m happy with Strikeforce and I’m happy with Showtime overall. Just sometimes you want different talent, but I’m happy overall.”
At times it has looked as if Melendez would make the jump to the UFC. For now, though, his home is Strikeforce.
“It’s tough, man, but right now at least I know I’m going to be in Strikeforce,” he said. “It was a little more tough when you think you might be going and you don’t know what’s going on. You have hopes. You have mixed emotions. Now I know I’m in Strikeforce and I know what I’m dealing with. I’m going to be up for my next fight. I’m going to be up for it.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:25:50).