Gilbert Melendez won't say 'retirement,' but plans to step back from fighting

Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will turn his focus away from fighting after a loss to Arnold Allen at UFC 239.

“I’m looking forward to now investing more of my time into my team and of course I will continue my studies as a student of martial arts,” Melendez wrote today on Instagram. “The journey will continue for #teamElNiño and the #skrappack because we are deep.”

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Huge thanks to my team and all my loyal followers . You guys will never know how much your support has meant to me over the years. Things didn’t go my way but when you have the opportunity to chase a great moment or take on a challenge I suggest you face it and go for it. Even in defeat I know this experience will help me grow as a martial artist and as a person. At the end of the day I am happy , I am blessed , I am healthy , I am loved , I leveled up and I had a dang great time out there competing!!! Arnold is a great competitor , is a difficult target to find in the cage and I wish him the best in his fighting future . As for me I’m looking forward to now investing more of my time into my team and of course I will continue my studies as a student of martial arts. The journey will continue for #teamElNiño and the #skrappack because we are deep. ♾ Special thanks to @kerimelendez415 #myDadSenior #Leylakay #sam #mifamilia #santaana #sanfrancisco @jakeshields @natediaz209 @joshclopton @escobar415 @this_man_dk @tlee133 @alexcoriano @jimslaz @phil.vita @baluvargas @jamesappleberry @randy.j.miranda @hurricane_415 @elninotrainingcenter @mo.jitsu @dannydamage @micky_baiano @ninjafelix @codyorrison @eljaguars @cesargraciebjj @teamsantosjiujitsu @philbaldacci and the rest of the pack for putting that time in with me.

A post shared by gilbertmelendez (@gilbertmelendez) on Jul 9, 2019 at 12:46pm PDT

Melendez, 37, didn’t explicitly use the word retirement, and didn’t immediately respond to MMAJunkie’s request for comment. Fans thanked him for a successful career in messages left on the post.

At this past Saturday’s pay-per-view event, Melendez suffered his fifth consecutive octagon defeat when he was unanimously outpointed by Allen, whom he’d previously been scheduled to fight before an injury forced him to withdraw. Melendez had alluded to possible retirement in several interviews.

“I think it’s important for me to succeed in my next fight,” Melendez (22-8 MMA, 1-6 UFC) told MMA Junkie in an interview before his first scheduled bout against Allen. “It will be hard to go on if I don’t succeed. I really have to deliver. Even if I did come out with a victory, and I’m not happy with my performance, I’d probably have to consider everything.

“I need to succeed in this fight. If I do, that journey may continue. But if I don’t succeed, I can’t say forever-ever, but it’s definitely going to be time to step back for a long time.”

Melendez defended his UFC record and said it didn’t reflect his abilities. The veteran also has struggled with injuries that kept him from regular competition. He’s fought just once yearly over the past four years. Activity was further hindered by a leg injury suffered in a losing effort against Jeremy Stephens in Sept. 2017.

Prior to signing with the UFC, Melendez was the breakout star of the Strikeforce lightweight division. particularly due to a trilogy with UFC and Strikeforce vet Josh Thomson. Ranked in the top-10, he made his octagon debut with a title shot against then-champ Benson Henderson and suffered a debatable split-decision loss.

In his comeback, Melendez earned a gutsy decision over Diego Sanchez at UFC 166 in one of the most action-packed and bloody fights ever seen at.

Outside the cage, Melendez also was a shrewd businessman, using a contract offer from Bellator to win a lucrative new contract with the UFC.

Melendez owns the El Nino Training Center in San Francisco. A member of the famed “Skrap Pack” that includes Nick and Nate Diaz and Jake Shields, he’s also a former WEC champion and veteran of PRIDE and Shooto.

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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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