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Gilbert Melendez Bio

Gilbert "El Niño" Melendez (born April 12, 1982) is an American mixed martial artist who has fought at Featherweight and currently fights at Lightweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He is a two-time Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and a former WEC Lightweight Champion. He also competed in PRIDE FC, Shooto, and Rumble on the Rock. Melendez holds the distinction of being one of a select group of fighters who have ever been ranked #1 in the world in two weight classes in MMA, among the likes of Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Randy Couture, Kazushi Sakuraba, BJ Penn, and Conor McGregor.

Melendez was nicknamed after the infamous El Niño storm that wreaks havoc across the Pacific Rim. It was given to him by a Japanese broadcaster describing his fight-style and the manner in which he stormed through the Shooto Featherweight division.

Contents

  • 1 Background
  • 2 Mixed martial arts career
    • 2.1 Strikeforce
    • 2.2 Ultimate Fighting Championship
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Film and television
  • 5 Championships and accomplishments
  • 6 Mixed martial arts record
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links

Background

Melendez is from Santa Ana, California, and wrestled at Santa Ana High School. Melendez always enjoyed combat sports and competition, but did not start training in MMA until after college when he was introduced to the sport by his good friend and MMA fighter Jake Shields. Melendez attended San Francisco State University and was studying in liberal arts, he anticipated becoming a teacher but did not finish his college education and get a degree, on account of training for MMA and working outside of college. He has stated that someday he plans on finishing his college education. Before becoming a professional fighter, he worked as a waiter and he also had a job at a Fairtex gear shop, which would later be one of his sponsors.

Mixed martial arts career

Melendez made his debut in the World Extreme Cagefighting and started off his career dominating his opponents, winning his first three career fights all by knockout due to punches before receiving an opportunity to fight for the first WEC Lightweight Championship against fan-favorite Olaf Alfonso at WEC 10. Melendez won the bout by TKO due to punches and became the first WEC Lightweight Champion. Two fights later, Melendez, still undefeated, made his debut in Japan's Shooto against Hiroyuki Takaya, which Melendez won by unanimous decision. He followed this up with two more TKO wins in Shooto to bring his record to 8-0 before making his Strikeforce debut against Harris Sarmiento, which Melendez won after his opponent tapped out due to punches received.

Melendez won the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship from future UFC veteran Clay Guida by a split decision on June 9, 2006.

Melendez then made his debut in PRIDE FC at PRIDE Bushido 12, winning by unanimous decision. In his next fight for the organization he faced then Shooto Lightweight Champion Tatsuya Kawajiri. Melendez won again by unanimous decision. He returned to Strikeforce to fight Tetsuji Kato in a non-title bout, and won his third straight fight by a unanimous decision.

Melendez then faced Mitsuhiro Ishida at the Yarennoka! event on New Year's Eve in 2007 at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan. Melendez received his first career loss against the Japanese fighter by unanimous decision.

Strikeforce

Melendez held the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship belt for two years before losing it on June 27, 2008 to Josh Thomson by unanimous decision (50–45, 50–45, 50–45) at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson.

On August 15, 2009, Melendez was again set to rematch Josh Thomson at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg but Thomson was not cleared to fight, due to lingering problems with his leg. Mitsuhiro Ishida was selected to replace Thomson in what became Melendez' first Interim title defense.

On December 19, 2009, Melendez fought Josh Thomson to unify the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship belts. Melendez won the fight via unanimous decision to become the Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. With the win he also avenged the second of his only two losses to date.

Melendez successfully defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship against current DREAM Lightweight Champion and former Shooto Middleweight Champion Shinya Aoki on April 17, 2010.

A rematch between Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri took take place on April 9, 2011 at Strikeforce 33 in April. Melendez dominated his opponent showing excellent striking, knocking down Kawajiri with a right hand near the beginning of the fight. Melendez then again knocked down Kawajiri with a combination of knees to the body and a right hook followed by a right uppercut. The beginning of the end came when Melendez sprawled one of Kawajiri's takedowns and then began landing short left hands which knocked Kawajiri down into half-guard where Melendez began landing vicious right elbows before the referee stopped the fight declaring Melendez the winner by TKO 3:14 into the first round.

Melendez faced Jorge Masvidal next. UFC president Dana White briefly put the bout in question when he revealed to reporters that he was working to bring Melendez into the UFC fold "ASAP" with the possibility of Melendez entering with an immediate shot at the belt. Melendez eventually defended his title against challenger Jorge Masvidal at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal. He won the fight via unanimous decision.

Melendez took on Josh Thomson in a rubber match for the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier in San Jose, California on May 19, 2012. He won the fight via split decision. Fans did not agree with the decision and Josh Thomson was visibly disappointed by the decision. Booing immediately followed the decision and continuously throughout Melendez's post fight interview. Thomson, although not pleased with the decision, showed class in defeat by asking the crowd to stop booing and support the local fighter.

Melendez was expected to face Pat Healy for the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship on September 29, 2012 in Sacramento, California. It was announced on September 22, 2012 that Melendez suffered an injury and had to withdraw from the fight. Due to Melendez' injury, Showtime opted not to air the card without the main event, thus causing Strikeforce to cancel the card becoming the second MMA card cancelled within a month under the Zuffa organization.

The bout with Healy was recheduled for January 12, 2013 at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine, but again, Melendez pulled out of the bout citing a shoulder injury.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

The Strikeforce promotion was dissolved into the UFC by parent company Zuffa on January 12, 2013. Melendez received an immediate UFC title shot and made his promotional debut against Benson Henderson on April 20, 2013 at UFC on Fox 7. Melendez lost a split decision in a closely contested bout.

In his second UFC fight, Melendez faced Diego Sanchez on October 19, 2013 at UFC 166. He won the fight via unanimous decision. The win also earned him his first Fight of the Night award. On UFC.com Joe Rogan called the brawl between Melendez and Sanchez the best he's ever seen.

Melendez was scheduled to face Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170. However, the fight was later cancelled due to undisclosed reasons.

After negotiating with the UFC for his new contract, there was speculation that Melendez may sign with Bellator. In the process, Melendez also got an offer from World Series of Fighting. He then agreed to sign with Bellator, but the UFC had the right to match their offer. Melendez ultimately re-signed with the UFC after he was given the opportunity to serve as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter 20, opposite UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, the two would face each other at UFC 181 on December 6, 2014. He lost the fight via guillotine choke in the second round.

Melendez then faced Eddie Alvarez on June 13, 2015 at UFC 188. He lost the fight by a close split decision.

Melendez was tabbed as a short notice replacement to face Al Iaquinta on July 15, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 71, taking the place of Bobby Green. However, Melendez was removed from the card on July 6 after it was revealed that he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs after his previous fight at UFC 188. In addition, Melendez has been suspended for one year from the date of the bout for violation of the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy.

Melendez next faced Edson Barboza on July 23, 2016 at UFC on Fox 20. Melendez lost the fight by unanimous decision.

Personal life

Melendez and his wife Keri Anne Taylor-Melendezhave a daughter born August 8, 2010. Keri Anne is a Muay Thai fighter with a 3-1 record as a pro (Muay Thai and Kickboxing). She also has a knockout win as an MMA fighter.

Film and television

Melendez starred alongside teammates Jake Shields and the Diaz brothers in the award-winning mixed martial arts documentary Fight Life, the film is directed by James Z. Feng and produced by RiLL Films, it was released in 2013.

He also has provided commentary and analysis for ESPN before each Pay Per View.

He coached season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter for the UFC.

Championships and accomplishments

  • Strikeforce
    • Strikeforce Lightweight Championship (Two times; last)
    • Five successful title defenses
    • Interim Strikeforce Lightweight Championship (One time)
    • One successful title defense
    • Most championship bouts in Strikeforce history (10)
    • Most successful title defenses in Strikeforce history (6)
    • Most consecutive title defenses in Strikeforce history (4)
    • Most wins in Strikeforce history (11)
    • Most significant strikes landed in Strikeforce history (749)
  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • Fight of the Night (One time) vs. Diego Sanchez
  • World Extreme Cagefighting
    • WEC Lightweight Championship (One time; first)
  • International Fighting Championships
    • IFC Night of Warriors Amateur Tournament Winner
  • Inside MMA
    • 2013 Fight of the Year Bazzie Award vs. Diego Sanchez on October 19
  • Sports Illustrated
    • 2009 Round of the Year vs. Josh Thomson on December 19; Round 5
  • MMAFighting
    • 2006 Lightweight of the Year
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter
    • 2013 Fight of the Year vs. Diego Sanchez on October 19

Mixed martial arts record

See also

  • List of male mixed martial artists
  • Mixed martial artists from California

External links

  • Professional MMA record for Gilbert Melendez from Sherdog Edit this at Wikidata
  • Official Pride Website
  • Gilbert Melendez' Myspace
  • MMA Freak Best of 2013 Awards

MMA Shirts



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