Josh Thomson and Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez know each other very well. Thomson was the last man to defeat Melendez, but “El Nino” recovered and took the belt he currently wears from “The Punk” in a second meeting. Now, come Saturday night, the two will complete their trilogy as the co-main event at the Strikeforce Grand Prix Final on Showtime.

Thomson shares a mutual respect for Melendez, but that will not keep him from attempting to do the same thing as he did in 2008 – win.

“People always talk about how they love watching the grudge fights. Granted, they make for great hype videos and stuff, but when it comes down to the fights, if you think about it, the fights generally end up being boring because both fighters are afraid of losing to that person that they hate so much,” said Thomson in a recent interview with Strikeforce’s website. “But Gil and I, we have a mutual respect for each other, and my honest opinion is, if I lose to him I know he’s gonna be a gentleman, I know he’s not gonna talk down or talk bad about anything to do with me or the sport, and it’s easier to fight harder against somebody like that.”

Thomson’s only two losses since 2006 have come at the hands of Melendez and Tatsuya Kawajiri. He earned the shot at the title by defeating K.J. Noons earlier this year.

Fans can catch the card on Showtime tomorrow night at 10:00 PM EST. The evening’s headliner will feature unbeaten Daniel Cormier taking on seasoned veteran Josh Barnett for the Grand Prix crown.


MMATraining Take: While many feel like Melendez is head-and-shoulders above the lightweight division in Strikeforce, this could be a trap fight for him. Thomson is skilled, and knows Melendez better than anyone. If “El Nino” is not completely focused, what out for “The Punk” to steal the show – and the Strikeforce title in the process.