Eddie Alvarez and Gilbert Melendez have long sniped at each other from afar. The two lightweight combatants fought under different MMA banners; Alvarez conquered Bellator's 155 lbs. division while 'El Niño' ruled the roost in Strikeforce. With both men now under the same roof, words will turn to blows on Saturday evening in the co-main event of UFC 188.
Gilbert Melendez called out the former Bellator champ earlier this year and spoke of high tensions when the two met face-to-face for a recent photography shoot. Eddie Alvarez claims his opponent exaggerated the situation:
"There wasn't any tension," he told MMAjunkie. "He didn't say sh-t. He told the media that if he was in a room with me, he was going to say something or do something. He didn't do sh-t. I looked him right in his face, and he didn't so sh-t to me. And when I see him again, he won't say sh-t to me."
The Pennsylvania native feels that Melendez only brings his name up in conversation to boost his own publicity, as he explained to MMAJunkie:
"I never heard from Gilbert," Alvarez said. "The only time I heard from Gilbert is when I did really good. So like, if I won a world title or defended a world title, then like a week later Gibert would say something to the media about how he wanted to fight me. He just made sure he would mention me so he could fill a headline."
Despite the apparent rivalry between the two competitors, Melendez respects Alvarez as a fighter and feels his opponent unnecessarily took things the wrong way:
"I've always just wanted to fight him, and I've always just wanted to fight him and thought he was a good fighter," Melendez said. "He's taken it as some insults, and he's badmouthed me here, and I just don't like him because he's badmouthed me. But I have nothing bad to say about him."
Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more updates on the Melendez/Alvarez fight and the rest of the pre-fight coverage for UFC 188 which kicks off on June 13.