SAN JOSE -- The majority opinion in the HP Pavilion press room after Saturday night's Strikeforce event was Gilbert Melendez won the first three rounds of his lightweight championship fight against Josh Thomson, with the challenger taking the last two rounds.
Thomson, who lost the bout on a split decision (Melendez took two of three 48-47 scores), didn't see it that way.
At the post-fight press conference, Thomson said that if he was the one filling out a scorecard, it would have gone 49-47 in his favor. In his view, the first five minutes were a draw, Melendez won round two, and Thomson won the final three rounds.
"I fight like the first round was a 10-10 round," said Thomson. "I should have went out and got it. It's my fault I left it in the judges hands. The third was a close round too, I thought I won that one, and then the fourth and the fifth. But, you know, whatever."
Thomson's best shot at winning came during the fourth round, when he got Melendez in several rear-naked chokes. But he wasn't able to get the job done, as Melendez fended off the submission attempts as time ran out in the round.
"The first one was probably close," said Thomson. "The rest of them, I was just trying to reach his chin. He's hard to submit. I trained with him for two-and-a-half years, I maybe subbed him two times that entire time. He's a tough man, he's almost impossible to finish. ... He's one of the greatest mentally strong fighters out there, that's what makes him so great."
Thus ends a trilogy that began with Thomson taking Melendez's title in a 2008 upset and continued the following year with Melendez winning the rematch. As far as Strikeforce's Scott Coker is concerned, Melendez-Thomson belongs among the great fight trilogies.
"I personally can watch this fight every month," Coker said. "It's going to go down in history as one of the great [trilogies] in the history of mixed martial arts. It reminds me of one of those great battles, let's say ‘Sugar' Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns or Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard. These guys have the chemistry to bring it. They both brought their A game tonight, it was an amazing fight, I'm proud of both of them."
While Thomson wasn't happy with the judges' scoring, the American Kickboxing Academy fighter still saw the bright side of fighting in front of his home fans.
"I started fighting in '98 for, like, $100," said Thomson. "With what I'm getting paid now, I mean of course I love it. I don't want to get a real job ever."