Pat Healy: “I Think The Media Has Kind of Taken Gil Melendez and Turned Him Into This Mythical, Unbeatable Fighter”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Due to an impressive run at lightweight and a five fight win streak, it appears as though Pat Healy is finally starting to get the respect, which for quite sometime, he didn’t feel he was getting. Case in point, Healy has been awarded a title fight with Strikeforce Gilbert Melendez, after handing established lightweight Mizuto Hirota a unanimous decision loss in July.
Although Healy has been rewarded for his efforts, and more people throughout the MMA world are taking notice of the surging lightweight, the ‘what’s next for Melendez’ talk continues to make the rounds.
“I don’t think it bothers me but it certainly motivates me,” said Healy (28-16), while discussing the ongoing narrative that surrounds the highly regarded Melendez and his future opponents in Strikeforce. “To act like the guys here in Strikeforce can’t give Gil a good fight is completely wrong. I think the media has kind of taken Gil and turned him into this mythical, unbeatable fighter.”
As a result of a seven fight win streak and several key wins, Melendez (21-2) is widely regarded to be one of Strikeforce’s best pound-for-pound fighters and a world class lightweight.
“He’s fought Josh three times, they’ve all been close, but the third fight was a complete fluke. He wasn’t into it,” Healy noted. “That’s the media perception of it. I don’t really agree with that. He is super good; he’s really tough and a champion. I think he’s one of the top fighters at 155 but I think he is beatable. There’s lots of guys in Strikeforce that would give him a tough fight.”
While Healy clearly believes in his abilities, and others currently on the Strikeforce roster, to challenge Melendez, the 29 year-old-fighter isn’t dead set against the promotion bringing in new contenders.
Of course, earlier in the year, Zuffa called on UFC vet Nate Marquardt to challenge Tyron Woodley for the promotion’s vacant welterweight belt. More recently, the UFC had plans to send over Frank Mir to fight Daniel Cormier, until an injury scratched the former heavyweight champ.
“Everything is the public’s perception,” said Healy, when asked if he would be interested in fighting a new recruit, provided he defeats Melendez on September 29th. “The more we get guys from the UFC, or other organizations that are well known, guys with good reputations, and they come into Strikeforce, that’s great for all the athletes.”
During his time in Strikeforce, Melendez has scored win victories over several established lightweights in addition to Thomson, including Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal among others. While Healy credited Melendez for being one of the sport’s leading lightweights, the Team Quest fighter believes he presents the champion a test he hasn’t faced before.
“I don’t think he’s faced anybody my size,” the former welterweight noted. “That’s for sure. I don’t think there’s that many guys at 155 who are as big as me. He’s had trouble with guys, kind of my style, looking back further into his career, the Clay Guida types that are going to stay on him the whole time. I think my style creates problems for a lot of people, and I think he’s going to have a difficult time.”
“I think I’ve been preparing for Gil ever since I was in Strikeforce,” Healy added. “When I didn’t have a fight I’d be thinking about Gil and how I could be successful against him. I feel like I’ve had a couple of years to prepare for this fight. I had a good turn around for this fight. I fought, headed out to Hawaii to help BJ Penn prepare for his fight with Rory (MacDonald)…Everyone’s been helping me focus and get ready to beat Gil.”
The upcoming title fight will headline Strikeforce’s September 29th card in Sacramento, California. The event will be broadcast on Showtime.