WORLD LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION
GILBERT MELENDEZ SIGNS NEW
MULTI-YEAR AGREEMENT WITH STRIKEFORCE
NEW YORK (Feb. 7, 2011) – Two-time STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Champion (155 pounds), Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (18-2), has signed a new, multi-year agreement with the San Jose, Calif. based world championship Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion.
“STRIKEFORCE is my home, they’ve always been like family to me and I’m looking forward to continuing my career with them,” said the talented, exciting, 5-foot-9, 27-year-old protégé of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Cesar Gracie and Muay Thai legend Jongsanan Fairtex. “There are a lot of great fights out there for me – lots of challenges. I can’t wait to get back into the cage, do my thing and show the world that I’m still at the top of my game.’’
Universally recognized as one of the top 155-pounders in the world, Melendez has won four in a row and five of six.
Melendez of San Francisco, by way of Santa Ana, Calif., last fought on April 17, 2010, retaining the STRIKEFORCE belt with a dominant, lopsided five-round decision over Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki in Nashville, Tenn., live on The CBS Television Network.
The impressive, one-sided triumph over the highly regarded Aoki came in Melendez’ first title defense since he regained the STRIKEFORCE crown with a hard-earned, hard-fought unanimous five- round decision over the fighter that had dethroned him, Josh Thomson, on Dec. 19, 2009, at HP Pavilion San Jose, Calif.
Melendez, who turned pro on Oct. 18, 2002, and won his initial 13 starts, owns other notable victories over MMA standouts Aoki, Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri. Melendez captured the STRIKEFORCE interim lightweight belt with a second-round knockout (punches) over Rodrigo Damm on April 11, 2009, in San Jose.
“I’m healthy again and excited about fighting again real soon,’’ the personable, charismatic Melendez said. “It doesn’t matter who I fight. I just want to get back in there and rip.’’
STRIKEFORCE (www.strikeforce.com) is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, STRIKEFORCE, sanctioned by ISKA, has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts (MMA) series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of STRIKEFORCE, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose. In March 2009, STRIKEFORCE signed a multi-year agreement with SHOWTIME® to stage live events on the premium cable television network. The promotion has since also produced two live, primetime events on the CBS Television Network.