Strikeforce 155-pound lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez recently spoke about his upcoming battle with former Shooto welterweight champion Tatsuya Kawajiri.
The two lightweights will clash this Saturday night at Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley in a rematch from their New Year's Eve 2006 fight at Pride Shockwave 2006. Melendez won a tightly contested unanimous decision that night.
Melendez understands, though, that both he and his opponent have become better fighters since then and that this will not be the same fight they had over four years ago.
"I think he wants to take it to the ground," Melendez says in the video from Strikeforce's YouTube page. "I think he knows I'm a harder guy to hold down and I think he's been improving his skills on holding people down.
"I think we might end up on our feet a lot more and he's also willing to bang, so it should be a good fight either way. I think it's going to be a great display of mixed martial arts, to be honest."
Kawajiri is coming off of a victory in December where he dominated former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson. Though Kawajiri seemed willing to slug it out with Thomson, it was when he took the fight to the ground that his ground-and-pound earned him the easy judge's decision.
Still, the champion believes that he deserves his placement as the favorite in this fight.
"I think I'm a little bit better than him everywhere," he continued, "and it's going to come down to who wants it more and who's in better shape."
Melendez himself is coming off of a one-sided beatdown of former top-ranked lightweight Shinya Aoki, where he displayed an impressive game plan and avoided Aoki's submissions.
As Gilbert Melendez looks to prove himself as the world's top lightweight fighter, this victory is a must, and he appears ready to make it happen.