At 35 years of age, Gilbert Melendez, a former Strikeforce champion and a former UFC title challenger, has lost three consecutive fights at lightweight, and he’s well aware that change is needed, which is why he’s dropping down to 145 pounds to take on the hard hitting Jeremy Stephens at UFC 215 next month in Canada.
In addition to needing a new start, however, Melendez is also moving down a weight class because fighters at lightweight have been getting ‘bigger’ and ‘stronger’:
“I’m dropping down to 145 because I feel guys are getting better at cutting weight. I think they are doing it healthy and the sport is evolving and there are better techniques to it,” he said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour.
“I used to be a 145 fighter and I was doing just fine at ‘55. Guys just got bigger and stronger and a little bit more tough. I was fighting guys like Benson, I didn’t fight Frankie, but he was at ‘55 before,” added Melendez.
After his recent losing skid, “El Nino” is looking to reinvent ‘himself’, and he feels as if he’ll be able to control the action more competing at featherweight:
“I think I am looking to reinvent myself and be a longer fighter there and do something different. These 55’ers are big and I can’t really push forward like I’d like to. I am not scared to, I think at 145 I will be longer and be able to impose my will more. That is my goal there,” he concluded.
As far as his fight with Stephens goes, Melendez is pleased with the stylistic matchup, and he feels as if it’ll turn out to be an exciting fight:
“I own the center of the Octagon and I stand there and bang. Guys who have beaten me have usually outpointed me and not really beat my butt,” Melendez claimed. “They stick and move or change game plans, Stephens isn’t one of those guys. He pushes forward and someone who I have been asking for, someone’s who is not a runner, someone who’s a banger that’s actually going to fight. I respect him and I like his style. It’s a good recipe for MMA,” he said.
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