As we reported earlier this week, after twice being forced out of the highly-anticipated rematch due to injuries, Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) is healthy and ready to defend his title against interim champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (16-2) at Strikeforce: Evolution in December.
Thomson, who captured the lightweight championship by earning a five round, unanimous decision over Melendez in June of 2008, has not fought since September 20, 2008, when he defeated Ashe “The Archer” Bowman in a little over a minute during Strikeforce’s second event at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Shortly after undergoing surgery for a broken fibula in his left ankle earlier this year, Thomson sustained a break in the bone located above the original injury. He suffered yet another setback after the bone broke a second time.
“Everything feels great now. Nothing is going to keep me out of this fight,” Thomson said. “I’m looking forward to getting back in there and going to work.”
While Thomson was sidelined, the 27-year-old Melendez remained busy in 2009, scoring a second round knockout over Rodrigo Damm at Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz on April 11, 2009 and avenging the first defeat of his career by punching his way to a third round TKO of Mitsuhiro Ishida at Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg this past August.
“I’ve been training for this fight for a long time now and have been thinking about it ever since Josh beat me last year,” Melendez said. “I’ll be getting the best Josh Thomson out there and he’s going to get the best Gilbert Melendez so it’s going to be a great fight for the fans.”
Strikeforce: Evolution takes place on Saturday, Dec. 19 from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The event is headlined by former undefeated Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le returning to action after an 18-month layoff to face Scott “Hands Of Steel” Smith.