Although Gilbert Melendez is a fair sized, underdog heading into UFC 181, the lightweight is predictably confident in his abilities to end the reign of champ, Anthony Pettis.
The betting lines have Pettis as the favorite in the range of -265 to -290, but since Melendez has long been considered one of the planet’s best 155’ers, it’s not surprising to hear that he believes he’ll be UFC champ.
There’s hasn’t been a ton of verbal warfare between Melendez and Pettis as their bout’s approached, but recently the latter argued “El Nino” could be approaching the end of his peak years. In addition, Pettis credited Melendez for having “good boxing”, but predicted the challenger will try to take the fight down.
Well, recently Melendez spoke with UFC.com about the upcoming fight, and while discussing the champ’s assessment of his skills, he stated:
“He has his opinions about me and has been telling everyone I’m a mediocre boxer and a mediocre wrestler,” Melendez said. “But I think I’m an extraordinary mixed martial artist. I mix everything up well and my skills become better when I work them all together. So I’m not a national champion or an Olympian in wrestling, but my wrestling pedigree in MMA is among the best there is because I know how to mix it with my striking.”
There are indeed, several good reasons why Melendez is ranked #1 in the UFC’s lightweight division, and why he’s only been defeated three times in 25 pro bouts. The 32 year-old is an extremely well rounded and rugged fighter, who has defeated many, notable vets during his career. Case in point, he was the Strikeforce champ.
That said, if Pettis can keep the fight standing for most of the fight, one would think his run as champ will continue. “Showtime” is one scary dude on the feet.
UFC 181 will be hosted by the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.