Former Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez will be getting an immediate shot at redemption after champion Josh Thomson dominated him through 5Rounds just seven months ago. Although Thomson knew that a rematch was coming, he didn’t expect it to be so soon, especially after Melendez told him so.
The two former training partners bumped into each other this past Saturday at a Cage Combat Fighting event, where they talked about a rematch somewhere down the line.
“My interpretation of what I got from him is that he wasn’t going to accept the fight,” Thomson told MMAWeekly.com. “We both heard about it on the way up there. So I really don’t know what made him change his mind. I’ve always considered myself pretty straight forward. Maybe he wanted to get it over with so we could start training together again.”
Thomson knows that he needs to be on top of his game to retain his title on April 11th, not only because Melendez will be determined to avenge his loss, but the pressure now sits squarely on his shoulders.
“This one, the roles are reversed,” he said. “The pressure is all on me. I think people are looking for me to finish him, and I can’t go in there that way. I see it being another grueling five rounds of us scraping by. I actually see this one possibly being a split decision. I don’t think one person is going to dominate.
“There’s no pressure on him right now. He has nothing to lose. He could come out and go 100 miles an hour and gas out and be finished in the second, and everyone would be like, ‘we knew that was going to happen.’ He’s just got to perform like he always does and do what he does best, which is apply pressure.”
Melendez earned his nickname, “El Nino,” because of his relentless and aggressive style, something that was not on display last June when he lost his belt.
“It’s not going to be the same Gilbert we all saw last year,” Thomson alertly stated. “It’s not. There’s no way in hell he’s going to come in and fight the same way. The same fight’s not going to happen. I think he’s going to try and stand. He’s going to try and make some changes to his game, and I think some of it will work.”