Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez is set to defend his belt against top contender Josh Thomson at Strikeforce: Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament Final, slated for May 19, 2012 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. Strikeforce officials confirmed the booking on Monday.
UFC mainstays B.J. Penn and Anthony Pettis were at one time linked to Melendez for his next title defense, and Melendez himself recently revealed he was expecting a name other than Thomson to be given the shot. However both sentiments eventually failed to come to fruition.
Melendez and Thomson have met twice before, with each man taking home a win. Thomson struck first blood back in 2008, stealing the lightweight strap away via a five-round unanimous decision. However 17 months later "El Nino" exacted his revenge, taking the judges' scorecards in another 25-minute decision.
Melendez (20-2) has yet to stumble since his initial loss to Thomson, ripping through six straight victories, capped by a hard-fought win over Jorge Masvidal.
Thomson (19-4, 1 NC), on the other hand, struggled with injuries for much of the last two years, before returning from a 15-month layoff to defeat K.J. Noons in a lethargic unanimous decision at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey. Following his win, "The Punk" was heavily critical of his own performance, boldly stating, "It was s***."
In addition, a light heavyweight rematch between former Strikeforce champion Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante (11-3) and Mike Kyle (19-8-1), and a welterweight bout between Nah-Shon Burrell (8-1) and Bobby Voelker (24-8) have been confirmed for the night's fight card.