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Strikeforce Storm Watch

Written by Tom Ngo
June 26th, 2008
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Current Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is one of the most exciting and entertaining MMA fighters in the world. His nonstop aggression and energy is so engaging that from bell to bell, you can’t to take your eyes off him. Come Friday, challenger Josh Thomson will be looking into the eyes of the storm.

“He’s gonna be in a world of hurt, man,” stated the Champ. “I’m comin’ to kill him. I’m comin’ to hurt him. Josh knows I can do some damage. He’s worried. If I’m ready he’s gonna be worried, and I’m gonna be ready for sure.”

Just think, these two were training partners just a couple of years back. Imagine what Melendez’ mentality would be if he didn’t like Thomson.

“I respect the guy, but the last three months it’s become personal to me,” Melendez said. “Anyone who’s trying to step into the cage with me, anyone who’s trying to take my belt, anyone who’s trying to beat me, I’m sorry man, I just don’t like you right now. In fact, I hate you!”

At the root of it all, MMA is still a business. Money talks, however, from where these two are from, pride speaks at even louder volumes.

“This is my career. This is all about me,” Melendez explained. “I want to take him out. I want to beat him and as of now we’re not friends. After, we’ll see if you we can work it out. (But right now) I’m the champion. It’s my dream, my destiny.”

And if you think that times these two shared during hours and hours of practice might cause Thomson to have a special place in Melendez’ heart, to the point that he would pull back some of his punches, think again.

“I don’t think it’s easy for me to hit a friend, but it will be easy for me to hit Josh,” said Melendez. “My belt is going nowhere. I work too hard. I sweat too much. I bleed too much. It’s mine.”

Melendez knows that his first title defense will not be easy. It is a fight that MMA enthusists have been waiting quite some time to see. It is not by accident that Thomson has compiled a 14-2 record and put himself in the position to contend for a title. His opponent is very much like him. In fact, those practice sessions may have created two of the exact same fighters.

“He’s a great striker; he’s got long arms and is also great off his back. He has some wrestling skills,” Melendez said of Thomson.

Usually, the week before the fight is a time of rest, when the fighters are busy doing various interviews helping to promote the fight. The calm before the storm, if you will. Although on Saturday, “El Nino” will be looking to rain down on Thomson’s parade.

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