Thomson vs. Melendez in Strikeforce Championship Rematch
Strikeforce World Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) and top challenger “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (14-2) will revisit their classic, five-round battle when they collide in a rematch for the coveted 155-pound title at Strikeforce: “Shamrock vs. Diaz” mixed martial arts (MMA) event at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Saturday, April 11th live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
The championship bout will be the 30-year-old Thomson’s first defense of the Strikeforce (MMA) belt and an opportunity to extend his win streak to nine consecutive fights.
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In their first encounter, a fight that many critics hailed as “Fight of the Year,” Thomson continually beat Melendez to the punch en route to earning the unanimous decision win at the HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008. With the victory, Thomson regained his footing amongst the world’s top-10 competitors in the sport’s 155-pound division.
The showdown between Thomson and Melendez, former training partners who hail from neighboring cities in California’s Bay Area, had been brewing for months as both fighters continued to climb the ranks in the division.
The defeat marked Melendez’s first in the Strikeforce cage. The 26 year-old had previously been on fire, winning all four of his Strikeforce starts, including a meeting with Japan’s Tetsuji Kato in the main event of the first-ever MMA affair at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., on September 29, 2007.
On April 11, Melendez gets his chance at redemption.
Ironically, Thomson’s sole defeat in Strikeforce competition came at the hands of Clay “The Carpenter” Guida, the former junior collegiate wrestling star and first Strikeforce lightweight champion in history. Previously, Melendez had dominated Guida with superior striking to capture the Strikeforce title at the HP Pavilion on June 9, 2006.
The event represents the dawn of a new age for Strikeforce as it will be the first one under its new television agreement with Showtime Networks Inc. The live telecast will feature up to five fights including a thrilling main event between three-time world champion and MMA legend Frank Shamrock (24-9-1) and fellow knockout artist Nick Diaz (18-7, 1 NC) contested at a catch weight of 179 pounds.
Middleweight (185-pound limit) sluggers Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (16-5, 1 NC) and Benji “Razor” Radach (19-4) will also meet in a featured contest.