Melendez: I can't be friends with 155-pounders - Sports Illustrated

Melendez: I can't be friends with 155-pounders

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Gilbert Melendez wants to set the record straight with Josh Thomson.

It's not the loss on his record from their June fight that burns him -- although losing's never fun. In the end, it was his performance that kept him up at night, making it all the more easy to re-sign with Strikeforce when thoughts of moving elsewhere crossed his mind.

"In history, I want to go down with a better performance than that. Even if I lose, I know I'm better than what I did."

That was in the back of his head when the two spoke the weekend before news of a rematch at Shamrock vs. Gracie broke. While the fight came as a surprise to Thomson -- he wanted to re-start their relationship as occasional training partners -- Melendez said he never ruled out a second meeting.

"I want to make things really clear -- I've only got one friend in the 155-pound weight division, and that's Nathan Diaz," he told "Josh is a training partner. Yeah, if I win this fight, and he never wants to fight me again, we can (train together). If I lose this fight, I'm not going to be very happy and I'm going to want to fight him again. It's just awkward, because he's a good guy and I respect him, but at the end of the day, I can't be making friends with 155-pounders."

For now, any good feelings towards Thomson will have to wait.

"Maybe some guys can hug and be friends -- it's just not in my nature to do that and go fight a guy like that," he said. "I've gotta get some aggression towards him and want to hate him. It's nothing personal, but that's just how you've gotta to be. At least I have to be, to pull out the beast."

Prior to their first bout, Thomson laid bare his problems with an injured shoulder that would make him less than 100 percent for the fight. But when "Melendez vs. Thomson" rolled around, he turned in a stellar performance that saw him dominate the then-lightweight champion. Melendez struggled to sync his rhythm with Thomson's range.

At the press conference for the April 11 event, Thomson appeared none too happy with the idea of getting ready for a second encounter.

"I'm actually dreading this fight," he said.

But Melendez wasn't swayed by Thomson's professed hesitancy.

"I don't play into that," he said. "I know he's being really cool right now and everything, but I can't let that (expletive) get in my way right now. As far as I'm concerned, he wants to kill me just as bad, he's healthy, he's perfect, and by the time he gets in there, he's going to be smiling like he always does, ready to go. I'm taking everything as a game, like he's trying to work his angles. Everything is strategy. Even if it's not, I'm treating it like it is."

Though both fighters agree that another five-round war is ahead, Melendez says he'll be more ready for it this time.

"More than anything, you're going to see a guy that's in better shape, and not looking as flat, and someone motivated to be in there," he said. "I've got a couple tricks in my sleeve, too."