SAN JOSE, Calif. (Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009) – Cung Le and Jose Thomson, who will be featured in this Saturday’s top two fights on STRIKEFORCE: Evolution at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., live on SHOWTIME® (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on West Coast), participated in a open media workout Wednesday at Le’s Universal Strength Headquarters (U.S.H.) Training Center in Milpitas, Calif.
The undefeated Le, one of the most dynamic fighters in MMA, will enter the cage for the first time since relinquishing the STRIKEFORCE middleweight (185 pounds) title to concentrate on an acting career. Le will face Scott “Hands Of Steel” Smith, a hard-hitting puncher and contestant on season four of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter reality show, in the main event.
Thomson will square off with Interim Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez in a long-awaited rematch to determine the undisputed king of STRIKEFORCE’s 155-pound division. Thomson captured the lightweight crown by taking an upset, five-round, unanimous decision over Melendez at HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008.
In other SHOWTIME televised fights, “King Mo” Lawal will make his STRIKEFORCE debut when he meets “Iron” Mike Whitehead in a heavyweight match, and Matt “The Law” Lindland will battle “Jacare” Souza at 185 pounds.
Tickets, priced from $30, are on sale at HP Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com <http://www.ticketmaster.com/> ) and STRIKEFORCE’s official website (www.strikeforce.com <http://www.strikeforce.com/> ).
Doors open at HP Pavilion at 4 p.m. PT. The first non-televised undercard bout begins at 5.
What the fighters had to say:
“It’s been two years (since my last fight). I’m very excited. I’m a martial artist first so, ready or not, here I come.
“I work ground and pound and my overall game and try to be a complete martial artist. Of course, my strength is my stand up, so I try to keep the fight standing.
“I expect Scott Smith to come hard. He’s an exciting fighter and so am I so you can expect a train and a jet (to collide).
(On whether or not he’s looking to fight conservatively as a precaution against Smith’s powerful hands)
“I’m just going to blank out my mind and, whatever is open, I’m going to take it. I can’t go out there (and be too concerned) with his power. I can’t respect it. I just have to go in there and fight smart, fight my game and make him worry about what I’m doing.”
(On whether or not this fight could lead to another run at the STRIKEFORCE middleweight title)
“Definitely, but one fight at a time. I can’t overlook Scott Smith. He’s in the crosshairs right now. I’ve just got to take my time and enjoy this. I’m just grateful to be a part of MMA and STRIKEFORCE.
“My body’s holding up well. I’ve had some injuries and surgeries just like any other athlete. It’s part of the game. I’m just going to continue doing my best until I can’t do it anymore.”
(On his expectations for Saturday’s rematch with Gilbert Melendez)
“I don’t expect it to be anything like the first one. I only hope the outcome is the same.”
(On Melendez being chosen as his first opponent after a 15-month hiatus from competition due to injury)
“I was actually glad it was him. No one wants to see two belts (in the same weight class) in a promotion. I didn’t want to fight anybody else first. I wanted to fight him and get the whole interim thing over with and move on with my career and get back to STRIKEFORCE having one (lightweight) belt.”
(On training with Javier Mendez)
“I think the one thing he does is come in with a good game plan so we have an understanding of what’s going to happen.”
(On whether or not he feels his round kicks and push kicks he used in the first fight with Melendez will be effective in the rematch)
“I don’t think they’re going to work as well. I think I need to use my speed and keep my distance.”
(On how he matches up overall with Melendez)
“I think I’m faster than him and I’m longer than him. It really just comes down to whoever follows their game plan best.”
(All photos by Esther Lin/Strikeforce)