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Gilbert Melendez saving smiles until after he beats Benson Henderson in April

Benson HendersonFor more than a year, lightweight Gilbert Melendez expressed his desire to fight in the UFC in hopes of testing his skills against the world’s top fighters rather than being limited to those on the Strikeforce roster. Now, Melendez will finally have his chance to do so on April 20 in San Jose when he faces UFC champion Benson Henderson in the main event at UFC on FOX 7.

However, rather than be overwhelmed with joy at the opportunity, “El Nino” has found himself coming to grips with the stakes involved and is instead working to prepare for an exceptionally tough tilt as opposed to a party inside the Octagon.

“Just knowing I’m having a title fight in the UFC, I’m motivated as heck. I wanna run. I wanna spar. I wanna train. It’s unbelievable that it’s finally happening,” explained the eager Melendez on a recent episode of Inside MMA. “I thought I was going to be more excited when they said (I was) going to be fighting for the UFC lightweight title…more happy. In fact, I’m a little more focused and it’s a different feeling. I’ll be a lot more happy when I win the title.”

The 21-2 Melendez will enter the affair on a seven-fight winning streak. Likewise, Henderson holds an 18-2 career mark and has emerged with his hand raised in six straight scraps.

The full conversation with Melendez can be seen below: