(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
In the 17 months that Josh Thomson has been Strikeforce’s lightweight champion, he has defended his title exactly zero times. His only fight since grabbing the belt from Gilbert Melendez in June 2008 was a non-title squash match against Ashe Bowman last September, and he hasn’t been able to compete at all this year due to a series of leg injuries. And even though a planned rematch with now-interim-champ Melendez has been canceled three times already, Strikeforce is rolling the dice again. According to GracieFighter, Thomson vs. Melendez II will go down at "Evolution," Strikeforce’s December 19th show at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
Despite being constantly jerked around by Thomson’s withdrawals, Melendez has been able to fight twice since last June, scoring stoppage victories over Rodrigo Damm and Mitsuhiro Ishida. The Ishida fight at Carano vs. Cyborg avenged Melendez’s first career loss; beating Thomson would clean his slate completely. With Thomson coming off a year-and-a-half of injuries and inactivity, you have to like El Niño’s chances. The current lineup for Strikeforce: Evolution looks like this…
– Josh Thomson vs Gilbert Melendez (for Unified Lightweight Championship)
– Cung Le vs Scott Smith (MW)
– Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal vs Mike Whitehead (LHW)
– Matt Lindland vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (MW)