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With Loss to Thomson Avenged, Gilbert Melendez Eying World’s Best Lightweights

Written by Tom Ngo
December 24th, 2009
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Gilbert Melendez

It’s been a long 18 months, but Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez was finally able to take back what was rightfully his when he avenged his humbling loss to Josh Thomson at “Strikeforce: Evolution.” Now that “El Niño” is back on top, he wants the world to know that a storm is a-comin’.

“I feel like Josh and I don’t get much respect with the [world] rankings with all the 155ers out there,” said an aggravated Melendez. “I think [Josh] and I can take out all the dudes in the UFC and Dream, and I think we’re about to handle that right now.”

Fortunately for both, Strikeforce’s willingness to share fighters allows them to offer Japan’s top dogs fights under their umbrella, in essence doubling their depth chart.

Former lightweight stud Takanori Gomi has recently moved to the States and could be a nice matchup for either, assuming he goes circa 2006-with it. However, both have their sights set on Dream champion Shinya Aoki.

If Strikeforce is able to convince the Jiu Jitsu ace to fight in a cage, Melendez should undoubtedly get first dibs, even if Thomson has been pushing for it for quite some time. However, he no longer has gold around his waist, so his wishes carry much less weight.

It will be interesting to see what Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is able to conjure up, however if all he wants is to put on another blockbuster lightweight scrap, he won’t have to look far.

“Well, there’s going to be a third one,” Melendez sarcastically said of the inevitable rubber match with Thomson. “I’m not looking forward to it. I left me heart out there.”

Although Thomson soundly handled Melendez for a unanimous decision the first time around, Gilbert bounced back nicely and returned the favor. Although some might say Thomson’s extended rehab cost him his title, he certainly wouldn’t. In fact, he’s already licking his chops at the thought of Melendez vs. Thomson III.

“I don’t think either of our stock went up or down, but I’m definitely proud of him,” Thomson said of their slots among the planet’s best 155-pounders. “He came back from a loss like a champion does, and got his title back. Now it’s my turn to go back and do what he did. So if there is a third, we’ll entertain that issue when the time comes up.”

Melendez quickly fired back with, “I’m cool with calling it even.”

For now …

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