Josh Thomson To Face Gilbert Melendez AgainWith injuries no longer a problem, the long-awaited rematch between Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Interim Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Niño” Melendez has been set for the upcoming Strikeforce: “Evolution” card on December 19th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The rematch, first scheduled for April of this year, was postponed on multiple occasions after both fighters suffered injuries, but Thomson has now recovered from a broken leg and will aim to defeat Melendez again.

Thomson (16-2-0, 1 NC) captured the title with a one-sided five-round decision victory over Melendez in June of 2008. It marked only the second time that Melendez had lost a fight and Thomson systematically picked him apart on that night.

Since that time, Thomson had competed just one time, in a quick victory over Ashe Bowman at Strikeforce: “At The Mansion II” last September. He has not fought since then and will likely experience some ring rust due to the lengthy layoff.

Melendez (16-2-0) did not compete for nearly a year after the first bout with Thomson and a scheduled April rematch was postponed after Thomson suffered a fractured leg in training. Melendez went on to defeat tough challenger Rodrigo Damm to capture the Strikeforce Interim Lightweight Championship.

Most recently, Melendez stopped “The Endless Fighter” Mitsuhiro Ishida at Strikeforce: “Carano vs Cyborg” on August 15th with a third-round TKO. The victory avenged Melendez’s only other loss and he will look to wipe the slate clean with a win over Thomson.


Thomson won the pair’s first meeting by employing an extremely intelligent game plan that nullified all of Melendez’s offence and prevented Melendez from taking the fight to the ground.

Melendez’s stand-up striking has continued to improve over the course of 2009 and he will be a formidable challenge for Thomson, who will be making his first appearance inside the cage in 15 months.

The rematch will unify the promotion’s Lightweight titles and will determine which of the two is the true champion.


Strikeforce: “Evolution” is set for December 19th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The event will air live on Showtime.