Historic STRIKEFORCE Event Will Include Rematch Between Ishida And Melendez for Melendez’ Interim Lightweight Title.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2009) – He’s had a week and a half to think about his new opponent, but Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez says he’ll be ready come Saturday as he takes on Japanese wrestling expert Mitsuhiro Ishida in a rematch of their New Year’s 2007 fight in Japan.

Melendez had been scheduled to fight a rematch with Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson until Thomson was forced to pull out because he couldn’t get medical clearance for an injured leg. So, now, Melendez will risk his interim title against Ishida on this Saturday’s “Carano vs. Cyborg” show at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

SHOWTIME will televise the bouts during a telecast that will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).

San Francisco’s Melendez (15-2) lost a unanimous decision to Ishida (18-5-1) in Saitama, Japan, on Dec. 31, 2007, for the first loss of his career.

Tickets start at $30 and are available at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070), all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and the official
STRIKEFORCE website (www.strikeforce.com).

Melendez recently answered six questions:

QUESTION: You found out a week and a half ago you will be fighting a new opponent, Mitsuhiro Ishida. How have you adjusted your training in such a short time for your new opponent?
MELENDEZ: “Well, I’ve been training for the past two and a half months for Josh Thomson so I was training a lot of wrestling and stand-up for a taller, conventional fighter and now my opponent is a short, southpaw wrestler. So there have been some changes and there’s not really a lot you can do. I’ve been training wrestling so I’m OK there but I wish I had more time to train specifically for Ishida. At the end of the day I train hard to fight whoever they put out there so I’ll be ready.”

QUESTION: What can you take from the first fight against Ishida that will help you on Saturday?
MELENDEZ: “I’m so glad I can get a rematch with a fight I know I can win. I remember he was fast and he was tough and a great wrestler but he’s someone that I know is not going to punch me or kick or really hurt me that much. I’m just looking forward to the rematch and putting on a better performance. I’m definitely looking forward to facing him in my home state. When you get in the ring you don’t think of where you are but with the travel and other factors involved it will be so nice to face him here with the hometown crowd behind me.”

QUESTION: What is the one thing you noticed or would change in looking back at tape of that fight the night you lost to Ishida?
MELENDEZ: “I’ve watched that fight a lot of times. Of course, there are tons of things I would change on that night. It’s been in the back of my mind for awhile. I’m preparing a couple of things that I think will surprise him. I know I’m in the best shape I can be right now and I’m just ready to get in there and fight.”

QUESTION: What do you think about your future with Strikeforce?
MELENDEZ: “I love fighting for Strikeforce and on SHOWTIME. I know when I get out there I’m showcasing my skills for the entire nation to see. But I don’t really think about the future much. I just try and take it fight by fight. I want to get past Ishida and keep working hard and I know things will work out for me.”

QUESTION: How do you relax when you’re away from the cage and not training?
MELENDEZ: “To tell you the truth when you’re training to be the best in the world there isn’t much time to do anything except hang out with some of my loved ones and just get ready for my next fight.”

QUESTION: You opened up a training center for kids in San Francisco. How important of a work is that to you?
MELENDEZ: “It’s very important. I have my own gym called the “El Nino” Training Center and I work with a group of kids called the “Scrap Pack.” I have one guy fighting Aug. 20 and two others Sept. 5 so right after this fight I’ll have some down time to just hang out but then it’s back in the gym and helping my team out. It’s a year-round sport but a sport that I love. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

-Press Release

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