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Despite Tragedy In Japan, Kawajiri Still Expected To Face Gilbert Melendez On April 9 is reporting that the Strikeforce lightweight championship bout between Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez (18-2) and top-ranked Japanese superstar Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (27-6-2) is still a go for Saturday, April 9 at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, Calif.

The bout seemed questionable due to the earthquake in Japan this past week, and lightweights K.J. Noons and Jorge Masvidal were told to remain on standby in case the bout was canceled.

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.

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 yesterday at Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena), all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online and Strikeforce’s official website.