Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez knows the fans are aware of his accomplishments outside of the Octagon. Now he’s ready to show them he can do it inside of it as well. During Thursday’s pre-fight press conference for the UFC on FOX 7, Melendez talked about his success outside of the UFC and how he is preceived by both casual and hardcore fans.

  “I think there are a lot of people who know what’s up,” said Melendez.  “But, yeah, to the common fan, I’m 0-0. It’s really the Octagon record is what stands out most.”

The man known as “El Nino”, who makes his long-awaited debut, challenges champion Ben Henderson for his lightweight title in the main event of UFC on FOX 7 tonight in San Jose. While it completes a goal most fighters dream of, he isn’t happy with just showing up tonight. He has every intention of winning and stamping his name as the number one lightweight on the planet. He says he’s fully prepared and believes winning tonight will justify all he has accomplished to this point.

“If I win, it will legitimize everything. If I don’t, it won’t.”

Yesterday, at the weigh-ins, Melendez (154) and Henderson (155) both clocked in under the contractual weight of 155 pounds. They then engaged in an intense staredown which was followed by “El Nino” turning to the fans, hardcore and casual alike, raising his hands and smiling, as if to say, “Here I am.”

Photo by Kyle Terada – USA TODAY Sports