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Gilbert Melendez Talks Bout With Kawajiri, Wants To Prove He’s The Number One Lightweight

Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (18-2) will make the second defense of his STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight Title against top-ranked Japanese superstar Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (27-6-2) on Saturday, April 9 at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif.

The bout is a rematch of a fight that Melendez won on a close, unanimous decision on Dec. 31, 2006. It is Melendez’s first fight since scoring a lopsided five-round decision over Shinya Aoki last April. Melendez has been triumphant in his last four fights, including a unanimous decision over Thomson in a rematch to regain the title on Dec. 19, 2009.

“My hand is healed and I’m 100 percent ready,” said Melendez. “I want to prove I’m the No. 1 fighter at 155 in the world. Kawajiri is one of the best anywhere. This is going to be a hard, excellent fight and I am looking forward to it. I don’t want to leave any doubt this time around. I’m ready to rip.”

Kawajiri is 8-2 since the controversial defeat to Melendez. He unanimously outpointed former STRIKEFORCE lightweight belt-holder Josh Thomson last December. Nicknamed “Crusher” for his devastating power and ground and pound fighting style, the Japanese destroyer holds notable wins over Yves Edwards, Luis Azeredo, Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante and Vitor Ribeiro, from whom he captured the Shooto welterweight championship.

Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley takes place on April 9, 2011 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California. The main card will be televised live on Showtime. Tickets, starting at $25, went on sale today at Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena), all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online and Strikeforce’s official website.