The Jungle’s amateur strawweight Ariana Melendez takes on Amber Cook-Wesley at Combat Night Orlando this Saturday, a fight that might her last amateur bout.
“We are going to take it fight by fight. However, we have an agreement that I’m going pro right after this fight,” Melendez said. “After this fight, I’ll start training [for] those pro rounds and start getting used to not using any shin guards, and wait for a contract to be signed.”
Melendez set a goal to make her pro debut this year, she added. Striking coach Alex Brooks said an impressive win would help the strawweight launch her professional career.
“If she dominates this fight, we are going to be looking to get her into Invicta FC and start her pro career strong,” Brooks said. “I think it’ll be the right move to make. Hopefully, that can happen, maybe later in the year. She’s trying to get things rolling there. She’s determined with her goals in this sport.”
This will be the third time that this bout has been scheduled. Cook-Wesley suffered an injury during a sparring session, in the initial scheduled bout on Nov. 23. The strawweight bout got rescheduled for April, but it got canceled due to COVID-19.
“From the first time we got matched up, I knew it would be a challenging fight for me. I’m excited that it’s all coming through right now,” Melendez said. “It’s not a rivalry but she’s someone that I’m looking forward to fighting.”
Although the strawweight said it’s not a rivalry, Brooks said it’s like the misfortunes of Khabib vs Ferguson not happening.
“This is our version of Tony Ferguson and Khabib. It’s a smaller scale, but that’s how it felt for us,” he said. “Ariana was supposed to make her pro debut earlier this year, and this happened. She’s been preparing for this one for about eight months.”
Melendez comes off a victory over Naomie Young via unanimous decision in February at Combat Night 115. Coach Brooks noticed her growth with the cage work she displayed and her knockout victory against Katie Bovett in September.
“Ariana improved a lot in just mixing it up, coming up with different combos,” Brooks said. “We looked at some fighters who are a bit shorter for their division, such as Chad Mendes. Since she tends to be shorter than the girls she fights at 115.”
“She never stops working hard. Anytime that we do work out, she wants to do a little bit extra, and ask for extra pad work,” Brooks said. “It’s crazy the amount of drive and desire she has to be the best at this. She improved a lot on her cardio, speed has gotten a lot better, and her ability to read other people.”
An amateur record of 2-2 doesn’t describe what she will bring to the table. Melendez’s skillsets are worthy of glancing upon, as she closes her amateur career.