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Gilbert Melendez Out of Dream 1, In For Strikeforce/EliteXC Event

(Gilbert Melendez pounds Tatsuya Kawajiri.)

Another late March cancelled fight is now back on, but a mid-March battle is off. We’re just trying to keep up. Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez was originally scheduled to fight Jorge Masvidal at the Strikeforce/EliteXC March 29th event. That match was called off when Masvidal had to drop out because of a shin injury. It looked like Melendez was going to skip the event as he was rumored to be competing in the Lightweight Grand Prix at Dream 1 on March 15th.

MMAWeekly reports that Chute Boxe jiu-jitsu coach Cristiano Marcello has stepped in to fight Melendez, so Gilby is on the March 29th fight card. Marcello confirmed the fight:

“Melendez is an excellent fighter and I am very happy to face him, especially on Strikeforce, which is a great event. We are going to travel together, me, (Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos), Master Rafael (Cordeiro) and Rudimar (Fedrigo). Cyborg will fight at the same event and we are going to make a huge presentation for the fans.”

Melendez spoke on why he is defending his belt on the 29th instead of going to Japan for Dream 1, and that he’s going to defend the belt “ferociously”.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to fight in the Dream tournament. I love fighting in Japan, but right now I have a commitment with Strikeforce. I’m looking to just put my focus on Strikeforce; I’ve got a contract there and want to fulfill it.”

“More than anyone, fans, people, my family, it’s important to me to come out ferocious, mean and show people I’m here to stay,” he exclaimed. “I’m focused and it means a lot to me to not only win, but win with bad intentions and put on a good show for the fans.”

Both Melendez and Marcello are vets of PRIDE, but also share the fact that their last loss was to Mitsuhiro Ishida. You can check out the first part of Melendez battling Ishida after the jump. For parts two and three of the fight, go here and here.

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