In what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career, Masvidal will face off with Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez for the lightweight title. Melendez is a man some consider to be the best lightweight fighter in the world. While oddsmakers have him as a long shot, Masvidal is excited to find out what Melendez is made of.
“I guess we’ll see after the fight if I’m holding the belt and if the naysayers were right or wrong,” Masvidal told HeavyMMA. “I’ve had fights against tougher opponents before but this is the biggest fight of my career from an advancement perspective. I’m anxious to hold the title belt and continue to progress in my profession. I don’t think about the added pressure. I have one focus and that is winning the fight.”
Melendez has been one of the most dominant champions to ever fight under the Strikeforce banner. His pace and pressure have folded one opponent after another. Masvidal respects Melendez’s skills, but he doesn’t believe “El Nino” will be able to get close enough to do damage.
“I think my stand up is bar none the best in this weight class,” Masvidal said. “I feel strong at lightweight and I don’t think there are many in this weight class who can stand toe-to-toe with me. I think he is going to have a hard time making contact. I’m anxious to finally test Melendez and show the world what I have to offer.
“I’m more focused on my training and at a higher skill level than I have ever been. I’ve focused on improving my weakest areas and I feel more ready than I have ever been for any fight. Fans are going to see the best Jorge Masvidal yet. Someone who is there to win – a champion.”
Melendez vs. Masvidal was announced just as talk ramped up about a potential move for Melendez to the UFC. Melendez has made no bones about wanting to compete against the UFC roster. Masvidal says it would be unwise for Melendez to overlook him.
“I think he is smart to focus on me for Dec 17th and nothing else. He is going to need that focus.”
Competing for a title is a battle in itself, but when the future of the organization in which you compete is unclear, things become much more difficult. Strikeforce appeared to be on its last legs as recently as two months ago, but UFC President Dana White recently announced the organization was here to stay.
“I’m hoping Strikeforce makes traction again with the fans,” he said. “Viewership has been down in recent fights and we want the fans to watch us and support what we do. I’m hoping Zuffa can do with Strikeforce what they have done with the UFC. This is how I feed my family, so the better Strikeforce does and the more fan support we have, the better I can take care of my family.”
One of the beautiful things about mixed martial arts is that all of the talk is settled between two fighters inside of the cage. This Saturday night, Masvidal will finally have the opportunity to prove his belief that he is one of the best fighters in the world. He concluded the interview by thanking those who have supported him throughout his career.
“I’d like to send a special thanks to God. I’d also like to thank my fans, Xtreme Couture (buy my walkout shirt online), King Ice (for blinging me out), University Health Center, Swole, Fine Line Ammo, Lexani, MMAOwl.com, and ML Management.”