Will Gilbert Melendez Eventually Drop Down to 145 Pounds?

Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez doesn't need to look far for excellent training partners. Teammates of "El Nino" include Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz and Jake Shields.

Melendez is on target to defend his title yet again next Saturday night vs. Pat Healy at Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Healy. The bout will air on Showtime from Sacramento.

In preparing for Healy, a veteran of the sport, Melendez looked to Shields. Recently, Shields bumped up to middleweight, providing Melendez with an even tougher sparring partner.

"I got Jake Shields, and if anyone can replicate Pat, it's Jake," said Melendez, during a recent conference call. "I lock horns with a lot of guys, but they got nothing on Jake Shields. No one is stronger, no one has a top game like Jake Shields, not one is as big of a grinder as Jake Shields. I've been training with him a lot."

Melendez recently asked Strikeforce to allow some of the UFC's top lightweights to enter the promotion to provide him with a test. During the conference call, he briefly brought up the 145-pound division, remarking that as a former top fighter there, he could always drop down if that is where the biggest payday is.

"You try to get the biggest match up for yourself," Melendez said. "Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. A paycheck and my family keep me motivated (now). I want to stay relevant in the sport, I want to stay on top of the payroll and support my family."

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