Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez really wanted to tough out the shoulder injury he received in training, but it was just bad timing and too close to the fight for him to go through with it. As a result, Strikeforce canceled the entire September 29 card when Showtime decided not to air the event, though Melendez had no idea that that was an even option.
“That didn’t even cross my mind, to be honest,” Melendez told MMAFighting. “It didn’t cross my mind at all. It’s a bummer to hear about that.”
Similarly stunned by the development, the move also seemed like a rash decision to other fighters on the card, especially since lightweight contender (and former champion) Josh Thomson was scheduled for action and was willing to fill in for Melendez. And even more, Thomson is from California where the event was being held. However, that didn’t seem to inspire Showtime to give the show a shot.
Melendez went through the timeline as to what had happened and said he let matchmaker Sean Shelby know as soon as it happened.
“I let them know the issue that I was injured,” Melendez said. “I was going to try to tough it out over the next couple days and give them a heads up by Friday. That’s when I told Shelby.”
The unfortunate news to all of this is that the injury happened on one of Melendez’s last day of sparring.
“About 12 days out of the fight, I was training hard,” explained the disappointed title-holder. “One of my last days, last days of hard sparring, I was training hard and Jake Shields and I were battling on a takedown and I didn’t want to give it up. I landed hard on my shoulder and ended up separating (it).”
Melendez said there was a day when he would have toughed it out and still gone a head with the fight. However, now that he is champ, he felt he had to keep things in perspective.
“If I had a broken leg, I’d tough it out, for my family, for my daughter, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” the champ concluded. “It came down to what is good for me, what is good for my career. I can let my ego take over like maybe in my younger years. But, it’s a business now and I had to treat it like a business. I could have gone out there and fought with one arm, but it’s not the best choice for my career and I don’t think Pat wants to win like that, I think most fighters in my situation would understand.”
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE