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Gilbert Melendez issues statement after latest loss: ‘The journey will continue’

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Gilbert Melendez
Gilbert Melendez
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Gilbert Melendez, for now at least, appears to be moving on.

Via a statement on social media Wednesday, Melendez addressed his loss to Arnold Allen this past weekend at UFC 239 and offered his gratitude to his supporters while using language that seemed to hint at a potential retirement.

“Huge thanks to my team and all my loyal followers,” Melendez wrote. “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 [Team El Nino] and the [Skrap Pack] because we are deep.”

It’s important to note that Melendez, 37, does not plainly state that he is retiring nor does he rule out a return to competition in the future.

Should this be the last that fans see of “El Nino” in the cage, Saturday’s bout signaled the end of an enormously successful professional fighting career that saw Melendez become an elite competitor at 155 pounds. In the first decade of his career, Melendez won 21 of his first 23 fights competing for promotions like Strikeforce and Pride, knocking off the likes of Josh Thomson, Jorge Masvidal, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki, Clay Guida, and Rumina Sato. That stretch included eight wins in Strikeforce title fights.

He became known for his exciting style, throwing down with Thomson on three occasions and going toe-to-toe with Diego Sanchez in a widely-acclaimed brawl at UFC 166. That would prove to be Melendez’s lone UFC win. He fell short in a pair of title opportunities and lost his last two fights at featherweight (and last five overall) to drop his pro record to 22-8.

Outside of competition, Melendez has been working as an analyst for ESPN.