Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez (born April 12, 1982) is an American mixed martial artist who formerly competed in the Lightweight division of 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.

Gilbert Melendez
Gilbert Melendez.jpg
Gilbert Melendez in 2009, at the weigh-in before the Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg event.
Born (1982-04-12) April 12, 1982 (age 40)
Santa Ana, California, United States
Other namesEl Niño
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)[1]
Weight155 lb (70 kg; 11 st 1 lb)
Reach73 in (185 cm)[1]
StyleBoxing, Wrestling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Fighting out ofSan Francisco, California, United States
TeamCesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
El Niño Sports
Fairtex Gym
RankBlack belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie[2]
Years active2002–present
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout12
By decision10
By submission1
By decision7
Amateur record
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Last updated on: April 18, 2010

Melendez was nicknamed after the El Niño storm, it was given to him by a Japanese broadcaster describing his fight-style and the manner in which he stormed through the Shooto Lightweight division.[3]


Melendez is from Santa Ana, California, of Mexican descent.[4] He wrestled at Santa Ana High School.[5] 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 careerEdit

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.


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.[6] 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.[7]

A rematch between Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri took take place on April 9, 2011, at Strikeforce 33 in April.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

The bout with Healy was rescheduled for January 12, 2013 at Strikeforce: Marquardt vs. Saffiedine, but again, Melendez pulled out of the bout citing a shoulder injury.[11]

Ultimate Fighting ChampionshipEdit

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.[12] Melendez lost a split decision in a closely contested bout.[13]

In his second UFC fight, Melendez faced Diego Sanchez on October 19, 2013, at UFC 166.[14] He won the fight via unanimous decision. The win also earned him his first Fight of the Night award.[15] On 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.[16] However, the fight was later cancelled due to undisclosed reasons.[17]

After negotiating with the UFC for his new contract, there was speculation that Melendez may sign with Bellator.[18][19] In the process, Melendez also got an offer from World Series of Fighting.[20] He then agreed to sign with Bellator, but the UFC had the right to match their offer.[21] 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.[22][23] He lost the fight via guillotine choke in the second round.

Melendez then faced Eddie Alvarez on June 13, 2015, at UFC 188.[24] He lost the fight by a close split decision.[25]

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.[26] 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 was suspended for one year from the date of the bout for violation of the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy.[27]

Melendez next faced Edson Barboza on July 23, 2016, at UFC on Fox 20.[28] Melendez lost the fight by unanimous decision.[29]

Melendez faced Jeremy Stephens in a featherweight bout on September 9, 2017, at UFC 215.[30] He lost the fight via unanimous decision.[31] Both participants were awarded Fight of the Night honors for their performance.[32]

Melendez was scheduled to face Arnold Allen on November 30, 2018, at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale.[33] However, Melendez pulled out of the fight on November 5 and was replaced by Rick Glenn.[34]

Melendez faced Arnold Allen on July 6, 2019, at UFC 239.[35] He lost the fight via unanimous decision.[36]

On November 11, 2019, it was reported that Melendez was released by UFC.[37]

Personal lifeEdit

Gil and Keri Melendez teach soldiers martial arts techniques at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in 2019

Melendez and his wife Keri Anne Taylor-Melendez have a daughter born August 8, 2010.[38][39] Keri Anne is a Muay Thai fighter with a 3–10 record as a pro (Muay Thai and Kickboxing).[40] She also has a knockout win as an MMA fighter.[41]

Film and televisionEdit

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.[42]

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 accomplishmentsEdit

Mixed martial arts recordEdit

Professional record breakdown
30 matches 22 wins 8 losses
By knockout 12 0
By submission 0 1
By decision 10 7
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 22–8 Arnold Allen Decision (unanimous) UFC 239 July 6, 2019 3 5:00 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 22–7 Jeremy Stephens Decision (unanimous) UFC 215 September 9, 2017 3 5:00 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Return to Featherweight. Fight of the Night.
Loss 22–6 Edson Barboza Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko July 23, 2016 3 5:00 Chicago, Illinois, United States
Loss 22–5 Eddie Alvarez Decision (split) UFC 188 June 13, 2015 3 5:00 Mexico City, Mexico Melendez tested positive for exogenous origin of testosterone metabolites.[45]
Loss 22–4 Anthony Pettis Submission (guillotine choke) UFC 181 December 6, 2014 2 1:53 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States For the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 22–3 Diego Sanchez Decision (unanimous) UFC 166 October 19, 2013 3 5:00 Houston, Texas, United States Fight of the Night.
Loss 21–3 Benson Henderson Decision (split) UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez April 20, 2013 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States For the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 21–2 Josh Thomson Decision (split) Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier May 19, 2012 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States Defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 20–2 Jorge Masvidal Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal December 17, 2011 5 5:00 San Diego, California, United States Defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 19–2 Tatsuya Kawajiri TKO (elbows) Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley April 9, 2011 1 3:14 San Diego, California, United States Defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 18–2 Shinya Aoki Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Nashville April 17, 2010 5 5:00 Nashville, Tennessee, United States Defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 17–2 Josh Thomson Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Evolution December 19, 2009 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States Won and unified the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 16–2 Mitsuhiro Ishida TKO (punches) Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg August 15, 2009 3 3:56 San Jose, California, United States Defended the interim Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 15–2 Rodrigo Damm KO (punches) Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz April 11, 2009 2 2:02 San Jose, California, United States Won the interim Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Loss 14–2 Josh Thomson Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson June 27, 2008 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States Lost the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 14–1 Gabe Lemley TKO (punches) Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Le March 29, 2008 2 2:18 San Jose, California, United States Defended the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Loss 13–1 Mitsuhiro Ishida Decision (unanimous) Yarennoka! December 31, 2007 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 13–0 Tetsuji Kato Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Playboy Mansion September 29, 2007 3 5:00 Beverly Hills, California, United States Non-title bout.
Win 12–0 Tatsuya Kawajiri Decision (unanimous) PRIDE FC: Shockwave 2006 December 31, 2006 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan
Win 11–0 Nobuhiro Obiya Decision (unanimous) Pride - Bushido 12 August 26, 2006 2 5:00 Nagoya, Japan
Win 10–0 Clay Guida Decision (split) Strikeforce: Revenge June 9, 2006 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States Won the Strikeforce Lightweight Championship.
Win 9–0 Harris Sarmiento Submission (punches) Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Gracie March 10, 2006 2 0:44 San Jose, California, United States
Win 8–0 Rumina Sato TKO (doctor stoppage) Shooto: Alive Road August 20, 2005 1 1:32 Yokohama, Japan Shooto Lightweight (143 lbs) bout.
Win 7–0 Naoya Uematsu TKO (doctor stoppage) Shooto: 5/4 in Korakuen Hall May 4, 2005 2 4:30 Tokyo, Japan Shooto Lightweight (143 lbs) bout.
Win 6–0 Hiroyuki Takaya Decision (unanimous) Shooto: Year End Show 2004 December 14, 2004 3 5:00 Tokyo, Japan Shooto Lightweight (143 lbs) bout.
Win 5–0 Kaynan Kaku TKO (punches) Rumble on the Rock 6 November 20, 2004 2 3:58 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Win 4–0 Olaf Alfonso TKO (punches) WEC 10 May 21, 2004 3 4:54 Lemoore, California, United States Return to Lightweight; Won the inaugural WEC Lightweight Championship.
Win 3–0 Stephen Palling TKO (punches) Rumble on the Rock 4 October 10, 2003 2 4:59 Honolulu, Hawaii, United States Featherweight debut.
Win 2–0 Jeff Hougland TKO (punches) WEC 6 March 27, 2003 2 2:05 Lemoore, California, United States
Win 1–0 Greg Quan TKO (punches) WEC 5 October 18, 2002 1 4:37 Lemoore, California, United States Lightweight debut

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Fight Card - UFC 188 Velasquez vs. Werdum". Archived from the original on June 13, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  2. ^ E. Spencer Kyte (June 6, 2014). "Melendez awarded black belt". Fox Sports.
  3. ^ "MMA Spot - On The Spot ~ Gilbert Melendez". Archived from the original on 2017-10-29. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  4. ^ @GilbertMelendez (September 16, 2014). "Viva Mexico! It's Mexican Independence Day. Proud of my roots" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ "Gilbert Melendez Santa Ana High wrestler". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  6. ^ "Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson confirmed for Strikeforce: Evolution on Dec. 19". Archived from the original on November 25, 2009. Retrieved December 1, 2009.
  7. ^ "Aoki-Melendez Signed for April 17 Strikeforce". Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  8. ^ "Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez Defend April 9". 2011-03-01.
  9. ^ "". 4 October 2011.
  10. ^ Gene Mrosko (2012-09-24). "Gilbert Melendez injured, Strikeforce cancels Sept. 29 event in Sacramento". Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  11. ^ Damon Martin (2012-11-27). "Gilbert Melendez Out; Jorge Masvidal vs. Pat Healy Likely for Final Strikeforce Show". Retrieved 2012-11-27.
  12. ^ Mike Chiapetta (2013-01-14). "UFC on FOX 7 targeted for Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez lightweight title fight". Retrieved 2013-01-14.
  13. ^ "UFC's Gilbert Melendez says he took 'foot off the gas' but thought he still won the fight three rounds to two". April 21, 2012. Archived from the original on 2013-04-24.
  14. ^ Staff (July 4, 2013). "Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez added to UFC 166 in Houston". Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  15. ^ Staff. "UFC 166 bonuses: Melendez, Sanchez, Dodson and Ferguson win $60,000". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
  16. ^ Matt Erickson (29 December 2013). "Gilbert Melendez meets Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 170". Retrieved 2013-12-29.
  17. ^ Mike Chiappetta. "Gilbert Melendez vs Khabib Nurmagomedov UFC 170 pairing scrapped". Archived from the original on 2013-10-20. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  18. ^ "Bellator pulls stunner, sings top lightweight Gilbert Melendez". 2014-02-14.
  19. ^ "Gilbert Melendez agrees to terms with Bellator, may leave UFC". 2014-02-14.
  20. ^ "Gilbert Melendez in contract dispute with UFC, WSOF offers him way out". 2014-02-14.
  21. ^ "Bellator agrees to terms with Gilbert Melendez, UFC holds right to match offer". 2014-02-14.
  22. ^ "Melendez Signs With UFC; Set to Coach TUF 20 vs Pettis". Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  23. ^ "UFC matches Bellator offer, re-signs Gilbert Melendez". 2014-02-23.
  24. ^ Staff (2015-02-23). "Eddie Alvarez vs. Gilbert Melendez co-headlines UFC 188 in Mexico City". Retrieved 2015-02-23.
  25. ^ Dave Doyle (2015-06-14). "UFC 188 results: Eddie Alvarez edges Gilbert Melendez for first UFC win". Retrieved 2015-06-14.
  26. ^ Brent Brookhouse (2015-06-17). "Gilbert Melendez in to face Al Iaquinta at UFC Fight Night 71". Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  27. ^ Brent Brookhouse (2015-07-06). "Gilbert Melendez fails UFC 188 post-fight drug test, pulled from UFC Fight Night 71 card". Retrieved 2015-07-06.
  28. ^ Hunter A. Homistek (2016-05-04). "Edson Barboza vs. Gilbert Melendez in the works for UFC on FOX 20 lineup". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  29. ^ Ben Fowlkes (2016-07-23). "UFC on FOX 20 results: Edson Barboza brutalizes Gilbert Melendez's leg on way to decision win". Retrieved 2016-07-23.
  30. ^ Adam Guillen Jr. (2017-07-03). "Gilbert Melendez vs. Jeremy Stephens featherweight fight in the works for UFC 215 on Sept. 9". Retrieved 2017-07-03.
  31. ^ "UFC 215 results: Vicious Jeremy Stephens low kicks destroy Gilbert Melendez". MMAjunkie. 2017-09-10. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  32. ^ "UFC 215 bonuses: Cejudo, Stephens among $50K winners". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2017-09-10.
  33. ^ Dave Doyle (2018-10-02). "Rafael dos Anjos vs. Kamaru Usman headlines The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale". Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  34. ^ Alexander K. Lee (2018-11-05). "Rick Glenn steps in for injured Gilbert Melendez, fights Arnold Allen at TUF 28 Finale". Retrieved 2018-11-05.
  35. ^ Damon Martin (2019-05-08). "Former title contender Gilbert Melendez returns at UFC 239 in July". Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  36. ^ Evanoff, Josh (2019-07-06). "UFC 239 Results: Arnold Allen Overwhelms Gilbert Melendez". Cageside Press. Retrieved 2019-07-07.
  37. ^ Alexander, Mookie (2019-11-11). "UFC releases former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  38. ^ "FIGHT! Life: Gilbert Melendez - Baby Girl (VIDEO)". 2010-04-13. Archived from the original on 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  39. ^ "Is there such a thing as a PPV blackout based on region?". 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
  40. ^ "Keri Anne Taylor Melendez - Awakening Fighter Profile". Awakening Fighters. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Fight Life: MMA Documentary". Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  43. ^ SHERDOG.COM STAFF. "SHERDOG.COM'S POUND-FOR-POUND TOP 10". Retrieved 2014-01-05.
  44. ^ Meltzer, Dave (January 27, 2014). "Jan 27 2014 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2013 Annual awards issue, best in the world in numerous categories, plus all the news in pro-wrestling and MMA over the past week and more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 22. ISSN 1083-9593. Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  45. ^ Martin, Damon (July 6, 2015). "Gilbert Melendez tests positive for banned substance, suspended one year". Retrieved July 17, 2016.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
New championship 1st WEC Lightweight Champion
May 21, 2004 – October 21, 2004
Melendez left WEC
Title next held by
Gabe Ruediger
Preceded by 2nd Strikeforce Lightweight Champion
June 9, 2006 – June 27, 2008
Succeeded by
New championship 1st Strikeforce Interim Lightweight Champion
April 11, 2009 – December 19, 2009
Preceded by 4th and final Strikeforce Lightweight Champion
December 19, 2009 – January 12, 2013
Strikeforce banner dissolved into UFC