“One down and one to go.” This was the comment that Gilbert Melendez made at the post fight press conference in reference to his third round TKO stoppage of Mitsuhiro Ishida and the next fighter on his hit list; Josh Thomson.
Regardless of Melendez’s excitement in avenging his first professional loss, he is undeterred from his ultimate goal; regaining the Strikeforce lightweight title from the currently injured Thomson.
“This title does not mean much. Josh is the real champion and that is the fight I want,” Melendez said. The interim champ showed improvements on several fronts, the most impressive being his standup.
Gilbert started out with a crisp jab that he stuck to throughout the bout. He also used punch combinations and strong knees to the body of his opponent, both of which were new tools to the arsenal of the San Francisco based fighter.
“I have to credit Jongsanan Fairtex and my boy ‘T’ [Tariq Aziz]. I have been working with them for years and it is paying off,” said Melendez.
Not to be outdone standing, when the fight hit the ground Gilbert also displayed a more diverse arsenal. “I want to get my brown belt, Cesar,” Melendez said jokingly to his Coach Cesar Gracie.
Melendez alternated between strikes and rear-naked choke attempts while on top of his opponent, showing a dedicated effort to go for submissions that we have not seen before.
“I wanted to make Jake proud of my ground game,” he said. Melendez also made a point to thank Scott Coker and Showtime after the fight.
Melendez had been vocal in his displeasure with handling of the replacement of Thomson with Ishida due to the fact Josh had not healed completely from his broken leg. After the fight however, Melendez’s tune changed with appreciation for everything Strikeforce has done for him over the years.