Almost 18 months after their initial meeting, Strikeforce interim lightweight title holder Gilbert Melendez will finally be getting his rematch against champion Josh Thomson this Saturday at “Strikeforce: Evolution.”
The two first met in June of 2008 when Thomson jacked Melendez’ strap by taking a unanimous decision with relative ease. Although he easily handled Melendez the first time around, he doesn’t expect Saturday’s meeting to be anything like their first tango.
“I don’t expect it to be anything like the first one. I only hope the outcome is the same,” Thomson stated. “I think the one thing he does is come in with a good game plan so we have an understanding of what’s going to happen.”
Thompson has fought only once since his scrap with Melendez, defeating Ashe Bowman in a non-title affair in September of 2008. He’s been on the mend because of complications stemming from a broken leg he suffered in April, which was the cause of the second cancellation between the two sluggers.
Due to Thomson’s extended break, the San Jose-based promotion opted to manufacture an interim title to keep the division moving. Although he’s been out for a minute, Thomson is thankful that he was given the opportunity to return to the cage against a fighter of Melendez’ caliber.
“I was actually glad it was him. No one wants to see two belts (in the same weight class) in a promotion,” Thomson stated. “I didn’t want to fight anybody else first. I wanted to fight him and get the whole interim thing over with and move on with my career and get back to Strikeforce having one (lightweight) belt.”
Melendez has fought twice since posting his disappointing performance against Thomson, having captured the interim tag by taking out Rodrigo Damm in April, then successfully defended his “title” against Mitsuhiro Ishida in August.
He’s been asking for this mulligan for quite some time, and come Saturday inside the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA he’ll be granted his wish. Melendez might be confident, but there’s a reason Thomson is the REAL champ.
“I think I’m faster than him and I’m longer than him. It really just comes down to whoever follows their game plan best,” said Thomson.