On Strikeforce’s Friday event, Josh Thomson will finally get his opportunity to fight current Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez for his title. This highly anticipated matchup was initially slated to take place back in March, however a shoulder injury forced Thomson to pull out and have surgery. Ready or not, Thomson will be coming with guns blazing.
“I don’t think the shoulder will be an issue at all,” stated Thomson. “I mean, after surgery, is it ever 100% (again)? You go in there with no excuses, no fighter goes in there 100% healthy and if they do, that means they didn’t train hard enough.”
It is this warrior mentality that has allowed Thomson to compile his impressive 14-2 record, not losing a fight in over two years. However, he will be facing his toughest opponent to date come Saturday. A fighter that the San Jose native knows all too well.
Just a few years back, Thomson and Melendez used to train against each other. Melendez grew up just across town, and perhaps those epic sparring and grappling sessions were a sign of things to come.
“We knew that when he came in here to train, we would develop a friendship as training partners, that one day it may come (that we would have to fight each other). He wouldn’t be my friend if he didn’t fight me,” Thomson expressed.
As the fight inches closer to game time, all Thomson has to do is recall on those training sessions together.
“There is no reason to watch tapes. I had him here sparring with me, training with me,” stated the challenger. “There’s no scouting tapes. We know each other, that’s how it comes down. It’s almost like training with your brother. You don’t want to lose to your brother. Now all of a sudden you have bragging rights.”
Bragging rights won’t be the only thing at stake as Melendez will be entering the cage with something that Thomson desperately wants.
“That’s my belt. It’s his now, but it’s gonna be mine,” stated a determined Thomson. “I’m looking forward to raising my hand and them saying, ‘the new champ.’”
Never one to lack confidence, Thomson is also conscious that his opponent’s all-around skills can cause serious complications for him throughout the bout.
“He’s good on his feet and he has good takedowns. He can get you just about anywhere,” Thomson said. “I know he is gonna bring a strong fight. That is his style, that is his game. Mine’s the same, so there’s gonna be fireworks. We know what to expect from each other.”
And the fans know what to expect as well. It will be a fun, exciting and fast paced fight. This very well could be one of the best lightweight bouts that the MMA world has seen in quite some time. It might even be as great as the battles that they used to have in practice.
“Gilbert’s one of the top guys in the world,” praised Thomson. “He’s proved that time and time again. I need to prove that I am right there with him. He’s got heart. He won’t stop from beginning to end. Whether he’s tired or not, he won’t stop. He’ll keep bringing the heat.”
Ready or not? He’s ready.