Recently the UFC announced that Gilbert Melendez has stepped in for Bobby Green at the promotion’s July 15th Fight Night card, and the man who’s going to fight him, is pretty, pretty happy about it.
Green was scheduled to fight Al Iaquinta at the San Diego bound event, however, the lightweight contender had to pull out due to injury. Since Melendez just fought Eddie Alvarez on June 13th, and lost via split decision, more than a few heads were turned when the UFC announced “El Nino” was going to be Iaquinta’s new opponent.
“Oh man I was ecstatic. I was going crazy. First, you know going crazy in a bad way once I heard Bobby Green was out, and you don’t know who you’re going to get. He was an opponent ranked above me, so you know it has really good benefits to beat a guy like that.
“You always see guys on TV and you look at them, you size ‘em up, and I’m like, I wonder how I’d do against these guys? And now I’m gonna get to find out. It was kind of like the same thing when I fought, really my last three fights. It’s the same feeling. It’s awesome to get in there with guys that you’ve always wondered, and now going in there, I know I’m ready. I’ve worked hard enough for it, so I’m ready for this opportunity for sure.”
Iaquinta’s comments are pretty understandable. While Green is a top 15 ranked lightweight and a very talented fighter, Melendez is a former Strikeforce champ and has long been considered one of the best lightweights on the planet. Melendez is currently ranked #5 and Green is #11, so if Iaquinta can score a win at UFC Fight Night 71, he could be thrust into the title shot mix.
Of course, Iaquinta’s in for a big test on July 15th… Although Melendez has gone 1-3 in UFC action to date, two of those defeats were debatable, decision losses (one to Alvarez and one to Benson Henderson). The vet could very well be the toughest, most well rounded fighter Iaquinta has faced to date.
UFC FN 71 will be hosted by San Diego’s Valley View Center and will feature a heavyweight bout between Frank Mir and Todd Duffee in the headliner.