Sitting down with Fox 11's James Koh, UFC lightweight contender, Gilbert Melendez gave his take on the lifetime ban of Rousimar Palhares as well as the title shot granted to Josh Thompson, a man he's already beaten twice.
"The heel hook is a vicious move, it's not a chopping down move, it's a snap, it's a bomb that explodes and it's a power move where you're supposed to have bad intentions when you do it," Melendez said regarding Palhares' submission of Mike Peirce. "Especially in a fight you don't want to be courteous and slightly do the arm bar, you want to blast the arm bar with an intention to snap it and break it."
"I saw it and said ‘Ooh, that guy's holding that leg a little longer,' and I didn't even catch the controversy till the next day," Melendez said. "It's nuts because people want the sportsmanship… but it is a fight."
"I saw the ref try to wrestle him off, he was in a zone and trying to destroy but it's tough as an athlete you got to be able to maintain and be able to turn it off when you have to," Melendez said. "It's a difficult situation but it's hard to get punished in a violent sport for being too violent."
When asked if he thought the lifetime ban from the UFC is fair, Melendez was diplomatic in his response saying the punishment is in line with other incidents in the cage.
"I think considering what they did to Paul Daley and what they did to Babalu Sobral, as well, he held a choke for too long back in the day, there has to be standard procedure when someone does that," Melendez said. "So I guess it has to be the same for everybody. Whether I agree with it or not, I still can't make that decision."
"It's sad to see his career is over in the UFC for such a talented fighter," Melendez said. "I have mixed emotions on the whole situation but I think it will be a lesson for everyone else, people won't make that mistake."
Melendez also responded to his longtime rival, Josh Thompson receiving a title shot versus Anthony Pettis. Melendez has beaten Thompson two out of the three times they've fought.
"When I saw that, I was happy for Thompson," Melendez said with a smile. "Go get it, if he wins, good for me. I don't think he's the favorite, but there's a possibility he can win."
While he wished his rival well, Melendez did admit to feeling a small pang of jealousy as well.
"I'm human," Melendez said. "But I had my shot, and if I didn't have something scheduled with Diego, I might campaign for a title shot a little more. But people are trying to make me look ahead but I have a tough task in front of me."
If Melendez doesn't get a title shot, the perennial lightweight stud threw out a very surprising name as a potential opponent.
"This up and comer, Khabib [Nurmagomedov], I think people would like to see that matchup," Melendez said. "He's not the biggest name so business-wise it's not the best move but I'm intrigued by it. I think it would be a great challenge."
Who would Melendez fight in a dream match?
"Gilbert Melendez versus old-school Bushido champ, Takinori Gomi," Melendez said. "I think in his prime he was the man at the time. Takinori Gomi is probably one of my favorite fighters of all time."
"In his prime, he was the ‘Fireball Kid' and he was the double champ, he was knocking guys out, he beat Jens Pulver who was the UFC champ at the time and I really like his style," Melendez said.
Favorite cartoon growing up? "Thundercats, Voltron and a little bit of G.I. Joe."
The first thing he likes to eat after a fight? "A burrito or a pizza. I'm lacking the carbs, I want a nice big tortilla or a nice big pizza."