For the most part, there hasn’t been much in the way of trash talk between Antony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez heading into UFC 181, but the champ has made some recent comments, which could irk the Melendez camp.
Pettis attended a media luncheon earlier this week, when the UFC announced it’s big (but still unclear) uniform deal with Reebok, and here is some of what he had to say about Melendez (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“I feel like he’s on his way out of the peak of his career, and I’m just entering it,” Pettis said. “I think his peak of his career, I wouldn’t say it’s passed, but he’s not starting it anymore. I’m just starting to tap into my grown-man strength, my full potential, my knowledge of fighting. I’m very confident in this fight.”
Huh. Interesting. If you believe an athlete’s peak is 30, well then Pettis is right, as Melendez is currently 32. The lightweight champ, on the other hand, is 27.
That said, Melendez hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, unless you believe he showed some vulnerability, during his instant classic, decision win over Diego Sanchez last October. The only men to defeat Melendez in his last 10 scraps are Josh Thomson and former UFC champ Benson Henderson, who did so by a hair in April, 2013.
Now, Melendez’s “peak” aside, Pettis had this to say about Saturday’s scrap and the former Strikeforce champ:
“I don’t really have an elaborate game plan or anything like that,” Pettis said. “He’s a tough guy. Good boxing. I know he’s gonna try to wrestle me. Anybody that fights me is going to try to wrestle me, take me down — Clay Guida. I’m not afraid of anything. He most likely won’t knock me out. He most likely won’t submit me. He might take me down and hold me down. The only thing I’m afraid of is losing a decision. As long as I keep that mindset to win at the end of the rounds, I’ll be fine.”
Chance are at some point, Melendez will likely try to take the fight down as Pettis predicts. Although Melendez has a great hands, footwork and a solid chin, one would think the clearer path to victory is on the mat…although, the aforementioned Henderson also thought so and that didn’t work out so well.
UFC 181 wil be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, and will also feature welterweight champ Johny Hendricks taking on Robbie Lawler.