When Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson met for the first time in 2008 the long-time American Kickboxing Academy standout was a step ahead of the Ceaser Gracie-trained Melendez.
18 months later it was a different story, Melednez avenged the last loss in his record and it was clear the improvement in the overall game of the Strikeforce lightweight champ displaying a dominate run over 25 minutes to make a claim as one of the top 155-pounders on the planet.
Since they last met Melendez has defended his title three times against high-ranked Japanese products Shinya Aoki and Tatsuya Kawajiri and top-contender Jorge Masvidal.
Thomson has collected three victories since their last meeting while also losing a decision to the aforementioned Kawajiri, most recently he out-pointed high-level boxer KJ Noons to earn his shot at the champ in the rubber match.
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After 50 minutes of action the Melendez-Thomson saga continued with a close opening stanza, Melendez early looked to establish his range throwing his jab and effectively using his leg kick and Thompson wanted this fight on the floor but only got it there momentarily.
The round concludes with Thomson closing the distance and landing a string of shots before Melendez caught his kick and dumped him on his back with seconds left on the clock.
The second frame begins with both men looking to exchange on the feet and Melendez really took control of the action moving forward with his long and lengthy frame battering him with a series of uppercuts and body-shots as well as putting Thomson on his back again but the challenger was able to wall-walk back to his feet.
Melendez again serves as the aggressor pressing him against the cage and working his shots to the body. The champion continued jabbing his way in and landing with his uppercut but Thomson was quick to counter strike making his eat some heavy-shots, both men got in close and threw wild strikes resembling a hockey brawl.
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In the championship rounds Melendez turned it up another level moving forward throwing his jabs and uppercut before getting the takedown but Thomson was quick to force his way back to the feet. Thomson effectively using his push-kick to keep Melendez at range but without anything to follow it up Ceaser Gracie’s top lightweight moves forward without troubles.
Thomson trips Melendez with 90 seconds on the clock as Melendez attempts to scramble to his feet Thomson jumps on his back seeking a rear-naked-choke but the champion escapes but is stuck with Thomson having his hooks in and back mount, the champ attempts to get to his feet but collapses with the weight of the AKA product on his back.
Melendez pushes the action again with his jab before looking to push the fight to the floor but Thomson quickly recovers as we resume at a stand-still. Both men exchange with Melendez landing with his left-hand and jab combination, as we reach the mid-way point of the round Thomson moves forward with a combination before seeking a takedown to no success.
Thomson the aggressor coming forward with his combinations and knee-strikes but Melendez batters him with his sharp jab and power-shots before Melendez shoots for a takedown that’s stuffed and Thomson trips Melendez and this title fight concludes with the challenged on top in the guard of Melendez.
After fifteen rounds and 75 minutes of action, Gilbert Melendez walks away with a split decicion victory to put a bow on their action-packed trilogy.