Sometimes losing matters less than the way you lose. Gilbert Melendez neglected his wrestling, the skill that helped him break into the sport, in losses to Mitsuhiro Ishida and Josh Thomson and it’s been weighing on his mind.
“I wish I could have had a whole two months to just, you know, eat, sleep, breath and dream about Ishida, but these things happen sometimes and I’m looking forward to fighting him,” Melendez told Fox Sports Radio’s Inside the Cage. Melendez will face Ishida for the Strikeforce interim lightweight title on Aug. 15 in San Jose, Calif.
Once a highly ranked lightweight, Melendez is 2-2 in his last four bouts thanks to Ishida and Thomson. Training to avenge his most recent loss, Melendez heard just a week and a half ago he would be battling the first man to defeat him, Ishida, and not Thomson, who pulled out due to a lingering leg injury.
“During that whole two and a half three weeks, there’s Ishida probably training his ass off training for me and I’m still thinking I’m fighting Josh, training for him,” said Melendez, unhappy Strikeforce and former training partner and friend Thomson didn’t let him know about the opponent switch.
“But nah, I didn’t get that call from [Thomson]. I wish maybe it could have been done. I don’t blame it all on him.
“There’s a lot of pressure on him for this fight, ‘Hey man, you gotta fight injured or not.’ Maybe he was thinking about doing it until the last second. I just, there shouldn’t be maybes in mixed martial arts. If you’re a maybe, then you’re out.”
Melendez reveals his frustration comes from being a strategic fighter. Going from a distant, orthodox fighter in Thomson to a short southpaw in Ishida is a major change. However, Melendez is ready, living in his San Francisco gym to prepare for the bout. He’s restructured his life and got back to his wrestling roots, scrapping with California State wrestling placers, local coach Alex Coriano and 2008 Olympian Matt Gentry.
“I hated going out there and not performing to the best of my abilities. It was almost embarrassing,” he said of his losses to Ishida and Thomson. I don’t care if I lose—I’m not scared to lose. But just being able to go out there and not be as prepared as I felt like could be or not as close to prepared as I could be, its a horrible feeling.”
If Melendez can trade in his interim title for Thomson’s 155-pound strap in the coming months, he’ll complete a revenge tour and the horrible feelings will belong to Ishida and Thomson.
Fox Sports’ Inside the Cage appears on Reno, Nevadas’s AM 1450 and is hosted by Greg Delong with co-host Danny Acosta. Gilbert Melendez appeared on August 12, 2009.