Strikeforce Evolution - Dec. 19

After twice being forced out of the highly-anticipated rematch due to injuries, STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pound) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) is healthy and ready to defend his title against top-seeded mixed martial arts (MMA) rival and Interim Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (16-2) on Saturday, Dec. 19 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

Thomson, who captured the lightweight championship by earning a five round, unanimous decision over Melendez in the main event at HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008, has not seen action since September 20, 2008 when it took him a mere 1 minute and 14 seconds to demolish Ashe “The Archer” Bowman during STRIKEFORCE’s second event at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Shortly after undergoing surgery for a broken fibula in his left ankle earlier this year, Thomson sustained a break in the bone located above the original injury.  He suffered yet another setback after the bone broke a second time.

“Everything feels great now.  Nothing is going to keep me out of this fight,” said the 31-year-old Thomson of San Jose.  “I’m looking forward to getting back in there and going to work.”

While Thomson was sidelined, the 27-year-old Melendez of Santa Ana, California remained busy in 2009, scoring a second round (2:02) knockout on Brazil’s Rodrigo Damm at STRIKEFORCE:  Shamrock vs. Diaz on April 11, 2009 and avenging the first defeat of his career by punching his way to a third round (3:56) TKO of Mitsuhiro “The Endless Fighter” Ishida at STRIKEFORCE:  Carano vs. Cyborg on August 15, 2009.  Both bouts took place at HP Pavilion.

His brilliant performance against Ishida, whom he had lost a unanimous decision to in Saitama, Japan on December 31, 2007, returned Melendez to the top-10 rankings in MMA’s lightweight division.

“I’ve been training for this fight for a long time now and have been thinking about it ever since Josh beat me last year,” said Melendez, a protégé of both STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight Champion Jake Shields and Muay Thai legend Jongsanan Fairtex.  “I’ll be getting the best Josh Thomson out there and he’s going to get the best Gilbert Melendez so it’s going to be a great fight for the fans.”

Tickets, priced from $30, are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online ( and STRIKEFORCE’S official website (

The live SHOWTIME® telecast will begin at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast), and conclude with a sensational, strikers’ main event featuring undefeated superstar and former STRIKEFORCE World Middleweight (185 pounds) Champion Cung Le (6-0) against power punching Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith (16-6).

Also in action will be 2000 Olympic wrestling silver medalist Matt “The Law” Lindland (21-6), who will take on fellow superstar Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (10-2) at middleweight.  Light heavyweight (205 pounds) star Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (5-0) and middleweight knockout artist “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (16-5) will each face opponents to be announced.

-Press Release

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