Though the bout may have flown under the radar over the past few weeks, Gilbert Melendez is set to put his Strikeforce lightweight title up for grabs on September 29 against Pat Healy. The bout will mark Melendez’s fifth title-defense and, according to “El Nino”, the fifth time he’ll exit the cage with his gold in tow.
A good portion of Melendez’s confidence comes from his experience training alongside Jake Shields for as long as he’s been fighting professionally. Like Healy, Shields is known for his grinding, ground-based style but also happens to a highly successful welterweight/middleweight rather than someone smaller or even similarly sized.
“No one’s stronger than Jake Shields. No one has a body-lock like Jake Shields, no one has a top game, and no one’s as big of a grinder,” said Melendez of his teammate in a conference call with media. “Especially when he’s on top of me. It gets a little heavy, almost like a straitjacket. But I’ve figured my way out of that straight-jacket, and I’ll do it against anybody.”
“If anyone can replicate Pat, it’s Jake,” he added. “I lock horns with a lot of guys, and the first thing I do is say, ‘They’ve got nothing on Jake.’”
Melendez holds an overall record of 21-2 including seven straight wins with victims like Jorge Masvidal, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Josh Thomson, and Shinya Aoki. Comparably, Healy has come out with his hand raised in five consecutive clashes and owns past victories over notable names such as Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE