Photo Courtesy Bellator MMA
Keri Melendez put her dreams of fighting as a career on hold to raise a daughter, but this year she is back to living the dream.
She signed with Bellator early this year to do both kickboxing and MMA. She was a champion in kickboxing, but MMA was something she never ventured into. The good news is she has one of the best MMA fighters by her side.
Her husband is UFC star and former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez. One of the better BJJ artists in the lightweight division, Gilbert has been watching her grappling sessions and has become her overall MMA coach.
Having two fighters in the household, it was learning curve to raising a family around fight camps.
“Right after my kickboxing bout, my husband had a fight four weeks later, so it was a little tough in our household,” Keri confessed to us.”I was lucky my mom was with us. She help out with our daughter and some of the chores that come from having a child.”
After the experience, Keri and Gilbert decided maybe it would be smart to schedule around their fights.
“I’ll take a break until my husband confirms his next fight,” Keri stated. “Then I will fight after he is done with his.”
Keri’s MMA debut comes at Bellator this weekend in San Jose, merely 30 minutes away from home. Gilbert and teammate Leslie Smith will be cornering her in what will be her biggest match to date.
The promotion has a budding flyweight division, which most thought would be where Keri would land. However…
“I usually fight at 120 in kickboxing,” Keri explained. “When I was offered opponents they said they would fight me at 115.”
Being a smaller fighter for the 125 division, Keri is looking for Bellator to possibly expand their female roster to strawweight.
“If everything goes to plan, I put on a great show, and get the W, maybe they will bring in more 115 pounders for me.”
You can watch Keri take on Sheila Padilla on Spike TV Saturday night.