Saturday, May 19, 2012
Gilbert Melendez was fighting in Japan in 2004 when fans there started calling him “El Niño.”
“I wrecked up three or four of their guys, and they said I was taking Japan by storm, wiping everything out in my path,” he said. “I like it. It’s a lot better than other guys who come up with their own nicknames for themselves.”
It may seem as if “El Niño” is idling now, as the mixed martial arts champion is waiting for a chance to fight the best grapplers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but Melendez (20-2) is still inflicting damage. He defends his Strikeforce lightweight title belt against Josh Thomson (19-4) on Saturday night in the co-main event at HP Pavilion in San Jose.
“I may have had a hard time getting motivated at first, but I am now,” said Melendez, who grew up in Santa Ana before wrestling at San Francisco State. “I take defending my belt seriously, as well as doing well for my family and my fans.”
Melendez, 30, is fighting Thomson for the third time, having lost the first before soundly beating him in 2009.
“I just have to stay focused, and my stock is going to continue to rise,” said Melendez, who will have three more fights on his Strikeforce contract after Saturday night. “I just have to wait a little longer to get the big UFC fights.”
Why isn’t Melendez in the UFC?
“You’re talking to the wrong guy. Politics? And I think Showtime and Strikeforce needed me, and let’s face it, I signed a contract. I am getting paid well, so I can’t complain.”
Other fighters made the leap to UFC when it bought out Strikeforce, and Melendez was, in many ways, left behind on the island.
“Gilbert Melendez is a Strikeforce fighter, and he’s been great (to deal with),” UFC president Dana White told MMA Weekly. “He wants to come over here (to the UFC), and he wants to challenge himself against the best, and I know a lot of other people want to see it too, but he’s in that Strikeforce deal.”
As long as Melendez can avoid Thomson’s dangerous push kicks, he should be able to use his superior wrestling game and striking prowess to emerge victorious.
Then he can return to the gym – his gym – and continue training for what many feel is his UFC destiny.
Melendez opened El Niño Training Center, on Potrero Hill, in 2009 and expanded it last winter to 7,000 square feet. Fighting instruction, fitness machines, physical therapy – it’s all that future and current champions need.
Some of the top fighters in mixed martial arts walk through the doors of El Niño, where they pay respects to “El Niño.”
Nate Diaz, the No. 1 UFC lightweight contender, recently called Melendez the best 155-pounder on the planet. Nate, his brother Nick, Melendez and Jake Shields are all part of “The Scrap Pack,” a tight clique of top fighters that began when Melendez met Shields at San Francisco State.
“Jake was like my big brother, introduced me to (coach) Cesar Gracie, and Nate and I would follow Nick and Jake around,” Melendez said. “The rest is history. And, I will be with those guys in the UFC soon.”
Gilbert Melendez was born on April 12th, 1982 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Melendez
April 12th, 1982
4 + 12 +1+9+8+2 = 36 = his life lesson = Having his work cut out for him. Overwhelming force. Hitting you like a ton of bricks. Crushing the competition.
April 12th, 1982
4 + 12 +2+0+1+2 = 21 = his personal year (from April 12th, 2012 to April 11th, 2013) = On the world stage. For all the world to see.
21 year + 5 (May) = 26 = his personal month (from May 12th, 2012 to June 11th, 2012) = Popular. Television. Photos. In the news. Making headlines.
26 month + 19 (19th of the month on Saturday May 19th, 2012) = 45 = his personal day = Intense. Hardcore. Focused. Violence. Tough guy. Hard knocks.
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