It’s been more than a year since MMA fans last saw popular lightweight Josh Thomson inside the ring. That will change this weekend when “The Punk” takes on K.J. Noons on the main card of Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey in a bout likely to determine the next contender to 155-pound champion Gilbert Melendez’s title.
For Thomson a future bout with Melendez would mark the third time the two had locked horns under the Strikeforce banner with divisional gold on the line, splitting their first two tilts with Melendez winning their most recent encounter in 2009. However, Thomson is positive he has the ability to take care of business this time around if given the opportunity to complete their trilogy.
Thomson spoke about Melendez, as well as Noons, in a recent interview with the UFC’s website where he not only expressed his confidence in being able to beat Melendez but explained he believes he’s the one opponent on Strikeforce’s roster who “El Nino” needs to be wary of.
“I definitely think I’m the one that poses the biggest threat against Gilbert, and I’ve proven it before,” said the 18-4 Californian. “I’ve beaten him and beaten him convincingly all five rounds, and I was beating him in the second fight in the first round and three quarters of the second round, but I got a little arrogant and cocky and got dropped at the end of the second round. I look at it as if the fight was actually mine and it was going the way I wanted it to go, but I think my confidence got the better of me, and it ended up costing me. The tide turned after that. Had we finished out those last 15-20 seconds of the round, I would have been up two rounds to none in a five round fight and all I would have needed to do was win just one more round.”
“So yeah, I’d say I pose the biggest threat in Strikeforce right now to beat him,” Thomson continued. “And the person that’s gonna beat him is somebody who’s well-rounded like myself – someone who can wrestle, someone who can stand, and there is a submission threat there. I haven’t really seen a whole lot of guys in the sport right now that can do that to him.”
As far as Noons, Thomson knows he has his hands full and has made sure not to let the prospect of a title-shot blind him from the challenge his faces this Saturday night.
“He’s a very talented, very athletic kid,” said the 33-year old of Noons. “He’s very explosive, and he’s becoming more well-rounded. If you notice in the last fight, he took Billy Evangelista down two or three times, he shot three or four times, and he’s definitely trying to open up his game. And not only did he do that, but he was able to avoid getting submitted in the third round and he’s going to be a dangerous fighter. He’s opening up his kickboxing, you can tell he’s working his kickboxing more instead of just being a flat-footed boxer, and we’ll see what happens. He’s really trying to open his game right now, and I think with the time off, he’s just getting back to his true MMA form.”
“I told everybody this, I’m gonna end up getting the best KJ that you guys have seen since he’s returned,” Thomson concluded on the 11-4 Noons.
Fans can catch Thomson’s attempt to earn a crack at Melendez when Strikeforce’s main card starts up at 10:00 PM EST on Showtime (prelims begin at 8:00 PM EST on Showtime Extreme). The show is headlined by bantamweight champion Miesha Tate putting her belt on the line against unbeaten judoka Ronda Rousey.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE
MMATraining Take: It’s amazing to think Thomson has been out so long though it’s not necessarily his fault, or Strikeforce’s for that matter, given his struggle to stay healthy. I’m not sure he’s the hardest fight for Melendez on the roster but then again even if he is that’s not saying much considering how paper-thin it is.