On April 20, in San Jose, CA’s HP Pavilion, UFC lightweights Nate Diaz (16-8, MMA) and Josh Thomson (19-5, 1 NC, MMA) will trade leather. For Thomson it’ll be his first fight back in the UFC since he departed the organization following a loss to Yves Edwards at UFC 49 in 2004.
In 2006, Thomson went on to fight for Strikeforce and picked up signature wins over Pat Healy and Duane Ludwig. Then in 2008, Thomson defeated Gilbert Melendez in a battle for the Strikeforce lightweight title becoming the last man to hand Melendez a loss. Melendez and Thomson have fought three times for a title thus far, each time putting on non-stop, action-packed wars.
In their last fight prior to the promotion folding, Melendez retained the Strikeforce belt in a closely contested and controversial split decision victory over Thomson. Now, he’ll face off against a close friend and training partner of Melendez’s, Stockton, CA’s own Nate Diaz. Diaz is also coming off of a title loss to UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 5.
“I think it’s a good fight to come into the UFC with. I think everyone knows who Nate is given that he just fought Benson for the title. Everyone knows who I am from Strikeforce because Gil and I have fought three epic battles in Strikeforce and all three times for the title. So everyone knows who I am in Strikeforce and so, I think it’s a perfect matchup. Both of us are coming off of title losses and I think we’re getting ready to work our way back up to a title shot in the UFC.”
Despite the fact that Diaz and Melendez have trained together for years at Cesar Gracie’s camp and have very similar strengths, Thomson knows Nate will be a completely different challenge.
“Stylistically, they’re similar as far as the boxing and stuff, but I think that Gil hits a little bit harder. Nate throws punches and combinations more and I think that Nate’s better on the ground. So, stylistically I think Nate’s a little bit bigger of a threat for me than Gil is.”
Thomson also revealed to MMA Fight Corner that he hopes to have a chance to even the score in a fourth collision with Melendez.
“I mean honestly, I feel that it’d be stupid for the UFC not to have us fight at least one time in the UFC, especially for the title. I think it’d just be surreal to have given the fact that the last fight was so controversial and if he wins this fight, and I win this fight, I think it’d just be the next step for the two of us to fight against each other for the UFC title.
“Just given that the last fight was so controversial, I still to this day I get probably I’d say close to three or four tweets, or Facebook messages, or whatever, just saying that I got robbed. People commenting to him basically like tagging him on this stuff and I feel kind of bad because it’s kind of disrespectful. But people are entitled to their opinion and I feel like if the opportunity, if it presents itself, of course,” Josh continued.
Still Thomson knows he’s not in a position to call out anyone just yet. But if the call came to fight Melendez a fourth time, Thomson said he wouldn’t hesitate to take it.
“Like I said before, it’s not really up to me who I fight. If the UFC says ‘Hey I want you to fight this guy’ then, if he’s next in line, he’s next in line. But when you to the level where we’re at, you really shouldn’t be turning fights down.”