Gilbert Melendez: ‘I made a mistake that won’t happen again’

UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez is the type of guy who takes responsibility for his actions, and he proved that recently on The MMA Hour.

“Well, you know what, I really don’t want to go down a rabbit hole or anything like that, but the gist of it is I made a mistake. I made a mistake that won’t happen again, and I’m not proud of it.”

Melendez is, of course, talking about his suspension last June after UFC 188, where he tested positive for testosterone metabolites.

He was put on the sidelines for a year, but only because his suspension took place under the more lenient penalties for drug failures. Had he been punished under the harsher penalties enacted on July 1, 2015, his suspension could have been longer.

This is one of the first times Melendez has been open about his suspension after he made his initial statement last July.

“Regrettably, I tested positive in my post fight urine sample for UFC 188. I did not inject anything, but I am responsible and accept the consequences for the results. I will make sure I am better educated about the products I use and their implications. Going forward I will ensure no products I use will contain banned substances. I am sincerely apologetic to everyone who supports me, including my fans, sponsors and the UFC. I value your trust and respect and will do everything in my power to keep it.”

Gilbert went on to tell host, Ariel Helwani, that he hopes he can move on from the incident and prove to the MMA world that he is still a great fighter.

“I’m doing my best to move on from it, and I’m hoping everyone else can, and it’s understandable if they can’t. But I just want to do everything in my power to prove that I am still a warrior and I’m a great fighter and just wanting to move forward, to be honest.”

In some ways, Melendez has an uphill battle ahead of him. Though he is a former Strikeforce champion, Melendez has lost three of his four matches here in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Still the Gilbert is a fan favorite. His membership — alongside Jake Shields and the Diaz brothers – in Stockton’s infamous “Skrap Pack” has no doubt helped his popularity, and his match against Diego Sanchez is widely hailed as one of the most exciting matches of all time.

Furthermore, Melendez has not exactly been fighting cans in his division. Two of his fights have been championship fights — one against Benson Henderson and another against Anthony Pettis — and his most recent loss at UFC 188 was against Eddie Alvarez, a former champion in Bellator, who is set to take on current UFC lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos.

anthony punching melendez
Melendez has fought a host of champions in his short run in the UFC, including former champion, Anthony Pettis (left). (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

Gilbert is set to make his return to the octagon against Edson “Junior” Barbosa at UFC on Fox 20.

Melendez certainly has his work cut out for him, though. Not only has Barbosa won eleven of his fifteen fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but his most recent win is over Anthony Pettis, a man who submitted Gilbert in the second round of their fight at UFC 181.

Luckily, Melendez has no shortage of supporters both inside and outside of his family.

You know, I try not to think about that too much. But I do have a bunch of loved ones around me that love me unconditionally, and I feel like fans the same way. That’s why I just want to redeem myself. I want to go out there and fight, and that’s why I’m excited to fight Barboza. People are telling me I’m going to get killed. I’m looking forward to show my heart, to show my durability, and to show my courage out there. I know I’m an older cat now, but that stuff lasts forever. I just want to go out there and show it to everybody.

Fans can witness Gilbert Melendez’s return on July 23.

[Image by Jeff Chiu/ AP Images]