ByJared Jones, writer at
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Jared Jones

Making the transition from one sport to another is always a risky proposition -- it turned the Michael Jordan of basketball into, well, the Michael Jordan of baseball -- but especially so in the world of combat sports, where the slightest misstep or lack of preparation can result in serious bodily harm.

For someone like , such a transition comes with a whole other set of risks. Aside from being a standout kickboxer in her own right, Keri also happens to be the wife of former lightweight champion and two-time UFC lightweight title challenger . After signing with Bellator last month, Melendez is set to make her MMA debut at . She credits her husband for unknowingly fueling her transition from the ring to the cage.

"You know, I wasn't always too sure," said Melendez about moving from kickboxing to MMA. "As long as I've been with Gilbert, and that's been 10 years, it's caught my eye and he's been prepping me, maybe not knowingly preparing me, but in the past couple years I've wanted to transition."

Matched up against the 2-0 Sheilla Padilla, Melendez stated that she was equal parts nervous and excited to represent her team and family, and recognized the added pressure that comes with being the wife of a highly-regarded fighter in the game. While she feels she owes a lot to Gilbert's tutelage, Keri was also willing to admit that the husband-training partner dynamic does not come without its occasional strains.

"Everyone's like 'Gilbert gets to coach you, you're so lucky' but he's also really hard on me. Sometimes we have our little spats and I'm just like 'back off me today, back off me today' but I'm lucky that he's guided me through this whole way. I probably wouldn't feel as confident as I do going into this fight [if I didn't have him]."

In addition to discussing her upcoming MMA debut, Melendez also offered her thoughts on everything from recently earning her blue belt in jiu-jitsu, to 's return at , to the possibility of teaming with her husband for the first ever couples mixed martial arts fight.


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