SAN JOSE, Calif. (Dec. 8, 2010) – Josh Thomson will be working on New Year’s Eve.
The exciting former STRIKEFORCE lightweight world champion will meet perennial 155-pound contender and Japanese superstar Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri in a fantastic matchup with world title implications on DREAM’s annual year-end “Dynamite!!” card on Dec. 31 in Japan.
Thomson (18-3, 1 NC), of San Jose, Calif., has won two in a row and 10 of his last 11 starts. A victory keeps alive his chances of facing current STRIKEFORCE lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez for a third time. Kawajiri (26-6-2), of Inashiki, Ibaraki, Japan, has been victorious in four of his last five starts.
In his last fight, the 5-foot-10, 32-year-old Thomson recorded a hard-fought, three-round decision over Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante on Oct. 9, 2010. Since March 2006, the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) team member has lost only to Melendez, and that came in a Dec. 19, 2009 rematch in San Jose that was later nominated for Fight of the Year. It was Thomson’s first fight in 15 months. Thomson outpointed Melendez in their initial encounter on June 27, 2008.
“I’ve wanted this fight forever,’’ said Thomson, who submitted (kneebar) Daisuke Sugie in his debut in the “Land of the Rising Sun” in July 2005. “He’s somebody that excites me.’’
A talented fighter known for strong wrestling and vicious ground and pound, the popular Kawajiri has been a staple in the Top 10 rankings. The 5-foot-7, 32-year-old had won four consecutive fights until suffering a devastating loss via submission (Achilles lock) to DREAM champion Shinya Aoki in his last outing on July 10.
Kawajiri, who upended Cavalcante on points in May 2009, dropped a decision to Melendez in Japan on Dec. 31, 2007.
The matchup between Thomson and Kawajiri is yet another product of STRIKEFORCE’s and DREAM’s cooperation to exchange fighters in order to produce the most competitive bouts possible between the world’s top mixed martial artists.
STRIKEFORCE (www.strikeforce.com) is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, STRIKEFORCE, sanctioned by ISKA, has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts (MMA) series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” In May 2008, West Coast Productions, the parent company of STRIKEFORCE, partnered with Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVS&E), an entity created in 2000 to oversee all business operation aspects of the San Jose Sharks and HP Pavilion at San Jose. In March 2009, STRIKEFORCE signed a multi-year agreement with SHOWTIME® to stage live events on the premium cable television network. The promotion has since also produced two live, primetime events on the CBS Television Network.