If there was any bad blood between former training partners Josh Thomson and Gilbert Melendez, it appears to be completely squashed. Melendez defeated Thomson via unanimous decision on scores of 49-47, 49-46 and 49-46 in a hard-fought bout at Strikeforce: Evolution last night in a contest that is being talked about as a “Fight Of The Year” candidate.
Melendez (17-2) walked into the cage as the Strikeforce interim champion, which he won in April, looking to regain the title which he dropped to Thomson last June. A rematch had been in the works since that time, but had been rescheduled several times due to injuries.
“Well, there’s going to be a third one,” Melendez joked at the post-fight press conference. “I’m not looking forward to it, I left me heart out there.”
Thomson admitted to trying to have the fight of the night with Melendez.
“We had a plan,” said Thomson. “We talked about it at the weigh-ins and said we planned to come out here and have the fight of the night, and I think we accomplished that. And from what I hear, we may even be a candidate for fight of the year.”
“I don’t think either of our stock went up or down, but I’m definitely proud of him,” Thomson continued. “He came back from a loss like a champion does, and got his title back. Now it’s my turn to go back and do what he did. So if there is a third, we’ll entertain that issue when the time comes up.”
Melendez was quick to hit back, “I’m cool with calling it even.” Thomson broke out his best Rocky Balboa impression, saying “I don’t want another one,” with Melendez doing his Apollo Creed, exclaiming, “There ain’t gonna be no rematch.”
As for what’s next for both fighters, with Strikeforce’s alliance with DREAM, Thomson noted that he would like to fight Shinya Aoki but Melendez should be able to get that fight first since he’s the champion. Melendez noted that he hoped that fighting contenders from from DREAM will help them get the respect that they deserve.
“I feel like Josh and I don’t get much respect with the rankings with all the 155ers out there,” he said. “I think him [Thomson] and I can take out all the dudes in the UFC and DREAM, and I think we’re about to handle that right now.”