Interim Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez is only twelve days removed from a victory and is already looking for some action. Ideally, the organization would prefer for Melendez to wait for injured champ Josh Thomson to return, but this storm is looking to head in another direction.
“I’m really trying to push to get a match with (Mitsuhiro) Ishida,” Melendez said. “I don’t really want to wait five or six months to fight Josh (Thomson), to fight again. I’d really like to get a rematch with Ishida, if they can pull that off and help me out, that would make me happy.”
Ishida, a one-time Strikeforce employee, is one of Japan’s most electrifying 155-pounders. He has won 12 of his last 14 scraps, including one over Melendez at “Yarennoka” on New Year’s Eve 2007.
Melendez was originally slated to avenge his loss to the man that jacked his strap from him at Strikeforce: “Shamrock vs. Diaz,” however Thomson was forced to pull out with a broken foot just nine days before the show.
With Thomson riding the pine, Melendez is ready to move on to Ishida, then come back to take on his former training partner. El Niño claims he is set to strike, and will be expecting his props because these storms are going to be violent.
“You’ve got to brand yourself as a person and as a fighter in the industry,” Melendez stated. “I think I’ve had a lot of great fights that I’ve fought, and I’ve proven a lot to the hardcore fans, and now I need the world to see me. I need the nation to see me, and give me some respect.”
Rodrigo Damm subbed in for Thomson on April 11th, and ended up getting slapped silly for his troubles. The referee pulled Melendez off Damm in the 2ndRound, giving the former champ his current interim status.
The “interim” tag is something he fully intends to eliminate and that is why he plans on staying with the San Jose-based organization for a few more scraps.
“I think for the immediate future, yes, but we’ve got to work some things out,” Melendez said. “Me and [Strikeforece CEO] Scott Coker have communicated well, he’s been a really good guy. I’m really happy with them and I think I’m going to continue my future with them, and for a couple of fights right now and see how things go.”
The organization is planning on hosting shows in May, August and June. As of now, neither Ishida nor Melendez are Rumored to be highlighted in any of them.
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