SAN JOSE, Calif. (July 30, 2009) – It looks like Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez will get his rematch with Japanese wrestling expert Mitsuhiro Ishida a little sooner than he expected.

STRIKEFORCE announced on Thursday that Ishida will replace the injured Josh “The Punk” Thomson, owner of the STRIKEFORCE lightweight belt who was unable to get medical clearance for an injured leg. Ishida and Melendez will battle for Melendez’ interim lightweight title on the Saturday, Aug. 15, “Carano vs. Cyborg” show at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

SHOWTIME will televise the bouts during a telecast that will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).

San Francisco’s Melendez (15-2) lost a unanimous decision to Ishida (18-5-1) in Saitama, Japan, on Dec. 31, 2007, for the first loss of his career.

In his last fight on STRIKEFORCE, Ishida submitted Justin Wilcox in the first round at “Strikeforce at the Mansion II” on Sept. 20, 2008. After four wins in five fights, Ishida recently suffered a TKO loss to Mizuto Hirota at a May Shooto event.

Tickets start at $30 and are available at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070), all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (, and the official STRIKEFORCE website (

The undefeated Carano (7-0) and her top rival, Cyborg (7-1), are slated to battle five, 5-minute rounds in the first-ever fight for the STRIKEFORCE Women’s 145-Pound World Title. The matchup also represents the first women’s main event on a major MMA fight card.

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