At Bellator 157 “Dynamite 2,” Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez will return to the kickboxing ring to lock horns with Sarah Howell, an opponent with a decent amount of amateur combat sports experience to her credit. Melendez, who is married to longtime MMA star Gilbert Melendez, hasn’t found much studying material on Howell, but she isn’t afraid of the unknown.
“I don’t know too much about her,” Melendez admitted to Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “I believe it must be her amateur record where she was 5-0 in MMA and she fought some tough girls. She’s 2-1 in kickboxing and has taken on much bigger girls, bigger than me, and with her being predominantly an MMA fighter, I expect her to come in with some heavy hands, good cardio and a big heart.
“She is a tall fighter with good range and she comes in aggressively, from what I’ve seen,” she added. “My coaches have prepared me for any situation, though. My muay Thai coach, ‘The Wooden Man’ [Jongsanan Fairtex] is the best in the world. I’ve got some great training partners so I’ll be ready.”
Melendez, who is signed to an exclusive professional fighting contract to Bellator, made her pro debut last year at the inaugural Bellator 142 “Dynamite” event, which was in conjunction with Glory Kickboxing. Like most fighters on a massive card, there were plenty of pre-fight jitters but she doesn’t expect to have as many this time around.
“I did have a lot of nerves going into that fight,” she said. “I think for every fight I have a lot of nerves. If I didn’t I think something would be wrong. But the best way I prepare myself to not let the nerves [overtake] me is that I am constantly training and getting ready. I make sure I leave everything I have in my training camp so when I come out there, I just have to fight. Once the fight starts and it’s on, I’m ready to go. I think I’ll have some before [Friday] but I’ve learned how to deal with them.”
Thus far, Melendez’s talents have been confined to the kickboxing ring, but she promises that her MMA debut is on the horizon.
“I’m going to get past this fight first,” she said. “This girl is going to be tough so I am not even really thinking about when I go over to MMA. But I will eventually do MMA; that I can say for sure. My goal is to get my MMA fight by the end of the year but like I said, I am only worried about Howell.”