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Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson Review

Strikeforce came to us all live Friday from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The main event showcased a bout between two very tough guys in Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson. Would Melendez be able to retain his Strikeforce Lightweight Championship belt or would Thomson upset the reigning champion?

The first fight of the night took place between Bryan Caraway and Alvin Cacdac. Cacdac was the native son; so the crowd was clearly on his side. That said, Caraway immediately took his opponent down, gained side control, and took Cacdac's back. From there, he sunk in the rear naked choke.

An impressive performance by Caraway.

Bryan Caraway wins via rear naked choke at 1:39 of round one.

Next up was a fight between Bobby Stack?who came out to some cool Irish music in Forrest Griffin fashion?and Jose Palacios. Of course, intro music has very little to do with fighting, so let's get to the real thing.

The two started by trading some low kicks. However, Palacios threw a nice right early on that knocked Stack's mouth guard out and generally controlled the action enough to force Stack to attempt two straight shoots. The first was unsuccessful. The second did the job.

From there, Stack executed some mild ground and pound for the rest of the stanza, while Palacios went for a Kimura unsuccessfully.

A solid round. Give it to Palacios.

After taking a shot to the face, Stack took Palacios down in the second. Though Palacios got up, Stack put him right back on the canvas again. From there, the two struck each other almost equally until there were only about 30 seconds left when Stack nearly pulled off an armbar. Palacios got out and took the top position. Soon after, the bell sounded.

This one is probably tied going into the third.

Stack went for a high kick that grazed his opponent near the start of the round and then slammed his opponent to the canvas. From there some scrambling occurred before he mounted Palacios. Stack executed some solid ground and pound until about the 40- second mark when Palacios threw his legs up and managed to turn Stack over. But Palacio's moment was short lived as Stack once again turned things over and started in with the ground and pound.

In the end, Stack probably took home a decision here. The judges agreed.

Bobby Stack wins via unanimous decision.

Next Anthony Figueroa took on Chris Cariaso. Figueroa had a pretty in depth plan before the bout. "(I'm going to) stand up with him (and) dominate him standing up. Then I'm gonna put him on the ground and dominate him on the ground."

Cariaso took down a very aggressive Figueroa early on. From there, he improved his position to the mount and went for an armlock. However, he was turned over for his efforts and Figueroa got to his feet. The reprieve was short lived, though, as Cariaso took him right back down.

From there, Cariaso took side control. There was a lot of changing positions but generally Cariaso executed some mild ground and pound before Figueroa got up and hit home with a strike very late in the round.

A clear stanza for Cariaso.

Cariaso took Figueroa down early in the second again. From there, he looked for the better position and rained down ground and pound in smart intervals before taking full mount again. Punches upon punches until Cariaso took his adversaries' back. He lost the position for a moment before regaining it and sinking in the rear naked choke.

Chris Cariaso wins via rear naked choke at 4:34 of round two.

Jerimiah Metcalf took on Raymond Daniels in the next fight. It was Daniels MMA debut. The man had a stellar kickboxing background and is an undefeated champion in Chuck Norris' World Combat League. So how would it all go down?

Let's find out.

Metcalf immediately shot in for a takedown on his adversary, who started the fight bouncing on his feet a little too much. Daniels proved difficult to take down and fought off the move for several moments. Still, in the end Metcalf did get him to the ground, though he surprisingly almost got caught in a guillotine for his efforts.

For the rest of the round, Metcalf attempted to improve his position and did so to the mount, all the while landing ground and pound on his opponent. The ground and pound was unmerciful toward the end of the stanza, but Daniels fought back enough to escape a stoppage.

Still, Metcalf definitely won the first easily.

Metcalf started out the second landing a hard right, gaining a takedown, and then gaining the mount position. There he started hitting home with some significant ground and pound before taking Daniels' back and sinking in the rear naked choke.

That was all she wrote.

Jerimiah Metcalf wins via rear naked choke at 59 seconds of round two.

Next up was a female bout between Miesha Tate and Elaina Maxwell. "I'm ready for whatever," said Maxwell coming in. Of course, everyone always says that. In other words, the proof is in the pudding.

Tate took Maxwell down rather quickly. Eventually, she ended up gaining the mount position on her adversary, and that's when the ground and pound started. Then came the armbar. Maxwell fought hard not to give it up even though she seemed caught dead to rights. And at the end of the stanza she clearly was caught, but the bell saved her.

Tate takes round number one.

Tate immediately took her adversary down in the second again. Soon after, she took the mount position and began raining down punches on Maxwell. Then her opponent threw her legs over, pressed down, and got herself out in a scissor lock of sorts. Still, Tate managed to secure side control soon after. Then the bell.

Maxwell needs a stoppage in order to win.

Tate pressed Maxwell into the cage to start the second, looking for the takedown unsuccessfully. The two stayed in that position for a long time before the referee broke them up. Tate immediately went in for another takedown, but this time Maxwell managed to snake around to her back. From there she started looking for an unorthodox armbar. Then the bell.

Maxwell gets the final round, but Tate should be the winner. The judges agree.

Miesha Tate wins via unanimous decision.

Next up was a fight between Anthony Ruiz and Bobby Southworth for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship. Said Southworth beforehand: "Fighting's like chess. Everybody starts out with a strategy but once the pieces start to fall you have to improvise."

Southworth took Ruiz down pretty quickly after landing a punch on his feet to start things off. From there he took side control and then Ruiz's back. Then Ruiz turned things over and ended up on top. Soon after, Southworth got to his feet.

Then Southworth took him down again. There he nearly pulled off an armbar, and when that didn't work tried for an omoplata and then triangle choke.

Southworth took the first round.

Ruiz secured a takedown early in the second along the fence. But Southworth turned things over and gained side control soon after.

Then Ruiz turned things over and started in with the ground and pound. Then Southworth turned things over. That's pretty much how things continued to go for the majority of the rest of the stanza. In the end, this was a pretty interesting round from a ground control perspective, but no damage was done.

Ruiz started off the third with a takedown and some very mild ground and pound. About 1.5 minutes later, Southworth got to his feet. Soon after, he secured a takedown of his own. Then Southworth moved to the mount position and took Ruiz's back before his opponent turned things over. After some ground and pound took them late into the stanza, Southworth got up and took Ruiz down.

Then the bell. Not sure who won this stanza either. That said, there is a definite lack of finishing moves going on here.

Southworth landed a hard knee and uppercut early in the fourth. After some jostling, he also secured a takedown. Then to mount again. For the rest of the round, a lot of the same occurred. That said, this one goes to Southworth because he did land some shots and nearly sunk in a Kimura later in the round.

In the final stanza, Southworth dominated from a takedown and ground control perspective. Thus, the fight should be his.

Bobby Southworth wins via unanimous decision.

Some booing afterward. It was not an exciting fight. Southworth did put in a solid performance.

Next up was a fight between Nam Phan and Billy Evangelista. "I feel very confident in every situation I'm in," said Evangelista beforehand.

Some action on the feet took place before Evangelista took Phan down. From there, he started in with the ground and pound, which, by the way, got stronger as the round went on.

Evangelista is a strong guy.

Along with this, he continued to land hard punches for the rest of the round from the top position and easily took the initial stanza.

The two traded shots on the feet in the second, but Phan landed the better shots, including one on the temple that seemed to stun Evangelista. Phan also connected with a hard knee before sprawling out of a takedown attempt by his adversary.

Evangelista connected with some nice body kicks, whereas Phan continued to press forward with his hands. In fact, one of Phan's rights was strong enough to knock the mouthpiece out of Evangelista's mouth.

Though Evangelista then secured a takedown, Phan managed to get right up again. Still, Evangelista would not be denied and took him down again. For the rest of the round, Evangelista connected with ground and pound.

That was a close round. During the final takedown, a cut on Evangelista's head began to bleed.

Phan landed a few solid rights to start things off in the third; then Evangelista went for the takedown. Phan was able to sprawl out and the two clinched along the cage wall. A nice body punch by Evangelista was followed up by a big knee by Pham.

From there Phan fought off a takedown attempt for a significant period of time. Still, Evangelista finally did get his opponent down on the canvas. With only mild ground and pound being landed, the referee stood them up. While on their feet, Phan landed several hard punches to the face and diverse strikes to the body. Then he shirked a takedown attempt.

This was another close round. Wouldn't want to be a referee in this one, as the final two rounds could've gone to either fighter. Phan seemed to hit home with the better shots in the final stanza, though.

Still, Billy Evangelista wins via majority decision.

"It's my belt," said Josh Thomson before taking on Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, Gilbert Melendez in the main event of the evening. "It's his belt now, but it'll be mine. I'm looking forward to them raising my hand (and) them saying to me, the new champion."

Melendez landed several jabs to start things off. But after connecting with a hard knee himself, Thomson surprisingly took Melendez down along the cage wall where he landed some significant shots. Thomson then moved to Melendez's half guard. However, when he looked to get to full mount, Melendez turned him over. After sustaining a few punches, Thomson then got up and landed a nice knee.

Soon after, the bell tolled. Josh Thomson took the first round.

Thomson connected with a strong low kick to start things off in the second. He followed that up with several body kicks and then a head kick. Melendez connected with a strong right, but Thomson then landed multiple kicks again.

Thomson is looking good.

In the clinch, the two traded shots and then separated. Thomson landed a front kick again. He's hurting Melendez with the kicks. For the rest of this exciting round, the two traded strikes with Thomson getting the better of things, particularly with kicks and a hard knee. Further, he (Thomson) secured a takedown at the very end of the stanza.

That's two for Thomson. Wow!

In the third, Thomson landed a hard front kick to Melendez's face and followed that up with several hard punches. Melendez fought back and landed some nice shots of his own; then Thomson sprawled out of a takedown attempt.

The rest of this round was pretty awesome as well. Both fighters landed several hard shots. That said, Melendez caught the worst of it. Though Thomson brought Melendez to a seated position toward the end of the stanza with a takedown attempt, Melendez stood up out of trouble.

This is a great fight. That said, Melendez now needs a stoppage to win.

Melendez started the fourth off with aggressive striking. However, Thomson once again started landing those front kicks to the midsection, backing up a man that has never really backed up during his career. Thomson continued to hit home with multiple kicks that hurt big time. Then he took Melendez down again. This time he took his back and went for the rear naked choke. He seemed to have it, but Melendez refused to tap and got out.

Melendez has a great heart, but he's getting beaten badly here.

The final round saw Thomson take Melendez down after a minute had gone by. However, Melendez got to his feet. From there on in, the stand up was close until late in the stanza when once again Thomson started hitting home with front kicks and punches. This may have been the best night of Josh Thomson's MMA career.

Josh Thomson wins via unanimous decision.

In the end, this version of Strikeforce was a good one. The night, of course, was made by Josh Thomson, who looked better than he ever has against perhaps the best competition he has ever faced. Gilbert Melendez showed his tremendous heart by somehow getting through this fight without being stopped.

Still, it was clearly Thomson's night.

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