Gilbert Melendez may be the best lightweight fighter in the world and he will be making his fifth title defense next month against Pat Healy.
“El Nino” is currently in training for his fight with Healy and some people believe that Melendez may not be the best lightweight fighter in the world because of the competition he faces in Strikeforce.
Several rankings out there have Melendez as the number three lightweight in the world, but TheMMAReport.com Rankings have him at number one.
Does Melendez (21-2) need a stoppage victory next month to make a statement that he is the best lightweight fighter in the world?
“Some people say that and I don’t know if they are trying to get in my head or anything like that,” Melendez said. “I am the number one lightweight in the world, I truly believe that. I prove it time and time again and this is my fifth title defense. For me, it’s just about preforming, about winning, looking sharp and doing the best I can do.”
His opponent next month is a tough, durable fighter and is currently on a five fight winning streak. Both Melendez and Healy (28-16) have taken on Thomson, with Melendez going 2-1 against him and Healy was defeated by Thomson in 2010 by submission. That is the last lost by Healy and he is coming off a decision victory over Mizuto Hirota in July.
Melendez knows what his opponent brings into the cage and is preparing to go to battle for 25 minutes.
“Pat Healy is a tough guy to prepare,” Melendez said. “He is a grinder, he is durable, so the main thing is to be in great shape and to be able grind for 25 minutes. I think I am more skillful than he is. I think I am more graceful than he is and I think I can capitalize on that stuff, but I have to be ready for war. This guy may not go down to a hard right hand or a hard left hook. He might be standing coming forward and I have to be prepared for that.”
Even with a stoppage victory over Healy, some people will not consider him the best lightweight in the world because he is not facing UFC competition. Melendez is staying in Strikeforce and his only opportunity to take on UFC competition is if someone decides to come over to Strikeforce, like Frank Mir is doing against Daniel Cormier.