Gilbert Melendez

Photos: Strikeforce/Showtime Presser


Frank Shamrock attempts to shake hands with Strikeforce opponent Nick Diaz. Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime Networks.

Here’s a small gallery of photos from this past Thursday’s pre-fight press conference for Strikeforce’s “Shamrock vs. Diaz” event, which takes place on April 11 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California and will be televised live on Showtime.

Those in attendance at the press conference included former UFC and Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock, Nick Diaz, former EliteXC champions Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler, and female MMA star Cris “Cyborg” Santos.

All photos were taken by Tom Casino and come courtesy of Showtime. Quotes from the press conference are here.

Continue reading "Photos: Strikeforce/Showtime Presser"

Thomson, Melendez to Rematch for Strikeforce Lightweight Title


Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thompson. Photo by Jon Swenson.

Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson will defend his title in a rematch against former PRIDE Fighting Championships standout Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce’s upcoming “Shamrock vs. Diaz” event on April 11 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

Various websites, including MMA on Tap, were able to confirm the matchup on Tuesday. Five Ounces of Pain was the first to report the possibility of the bout. Thomson won a five-round unanimous decision over Melendez at a Strikeforce event in June of last year.

Since then, Thomson has only competed once and has yet to defend his belt. The American Kickboxing Academy product last competed at Strikeforce’s second visit to the Playboy Mansion this past September, defeating Ashe Bowman via first-round TKO in a non-title bout.

Melendez has not fought since losing to Thomson either due to taking some time off to heal lingering injuries and opening his own gym in California. The Cesar Gracie-trained fighter has one fight on his current contract with Strikeforce and will become a free agent following his rematch with Thomson.

Melendez Plans to Finish Out Strikeforce Contract in January


Gilbert Melendez. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

After winning his first 13 professional fights, Gilbert Melendez was quickly on his way to becoming the world’s top lightweight, until a trip to Japan for New Year’s Eve had him suffer his first loss to fellow wrestler Mitsuhiro Ishida. A bounce-back win over Gabe Lemley followed but Melendez ended up losing his Strikeforce lightweight title in his latest fight against Josh Thomson in June, and the California native went back to the drawing board.

These days, Melendez finds himself encompassed with the opening of his new gym, but is planning a return to action in January of next year, where he will finish the remaining fight left on his Strikeforce contract before testing out the free agent waters for the first time in a long time according to his comments in a recent interview with MMANews.com:

MMANews.com: What’s next in your fighting career?

Gilbert Melendez: To keep it going man. I didn’t make this gym to relax and make money. I did it for my training and to get better training. I have one more fight left with Strikeforce and after that fight I am going to weigh my options from there. My goal is to look amazing in my next fight because I have no choice to look amazing. I am going to take my time. I believe I will be fighting in January with Strikeforce and then after that I’ll see where I am at.

Melendez has the potential to become a great fighter, but can’t rely on his wrestling alone as he has done in past fights. He’s never seemed to be a fan of exclusive contracts, but if Melendez is able to avenge a previous loss to either Ishida or Thomson in his next fight, an enticing offer from Zuffa might be coming his way.

“Unfiltered: Melendez vs. Thomson” Premieres Friday on HDNet


Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thompson. Photo by Jon Swenson.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – HDNet, the first national television network broadcasting all of its programming in the high-definition format, will give fans an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at the lives and training camps of Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (14-1), and challenger, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (14-2), during a special 30 minute program that premieres Friday, June 13th at 12 a.m EST/9 p.m. PST, two weeks before the two rival forces collide at San Jose’s HP Pavilion.

“Unfiltered: Melendez vs. Thomson” follows both world-class fighters as they prepare for what is arguably the biggest battle of their lives and a fight that will determine supremacy in the sport’s 155 lb. division.

The 26-year-old Melendez, a protégé of both Muay Thai legend Jongsanan Fairtex and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Jake Shields, notched his last victory, a second round TKO of Gabe Lemley, live on Showtime during the Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs. Cung Le” mega-event at HP Pavilion on March 29th.  Recognized by every major, independent ranking system as one of the world’s top five lightweight competitors, Melendez has also established a reputation for being one of the most complete fighters in the sport.   

Thomson has been on fire of late, winning his last six fights in impressive fashion.  Following his last conquest, a first round stoppage of Adam Lynn during Strikeforce’s historic, first event at the world famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills on September 29, 2007, the 29-year-old former Stanford University wrestling star was forced to undergo surgery to repair a tear in his shoulder.  The showdown with Melendez marks his first appearance since his meeting with Lynn.

Continue reading "“Unfiltered: Melendez vs. Thomson” Premieres Friday on HDNet"

Melendez-Thomson Set for June Showdown


Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thompson. Photo by Jon Swenson.

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Following a year of anticipation, Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (14-1), will put his coveted title on the line against number one contender and Bay Area arch-rival, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (14-2), in the main event of a Strikeforce mixed martial arts mega-card at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on Friday, June 27th.

Originally slated for March 29th, the showdown between the 155 lb. superstars was put on hold after it was learned that Thomson would have to undergo surgery for a left shoulder injury he had sustained on his way to victory over Adam Lynn at Strikeforce’s event at The Playboy Mansion on September 29, 2007.

“This is a very big fight for the fans, for the promotion and for Josh and me,” said the 26-year-old Melendez, who turned in another stellar performance in his last effort, stopping Pat Miletich protégé Gabe Lemley with a brutal ground and pound offensive in the second round of their live Showtime-televised contest at HP Pavilion on Saturday, March 29th.  “Josh is a great fighter, but I’m the champ and I plan on remaining the champ for a long time.”

Unbeaten after his first nine starts, Melendez seized the Strikeforce crown from former junior collegiate wrestling standout, Clay “The Carpenter” Guida, on June 9, 2006, battering Guida with kicks and punches for five rounds before being awarded the title by way of judges’ decision.

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Le Breaks Shamrock in Instant Classic


In a fantastic third round to an exceptionally exciting, give-and-take slugfest Saturday on Showtime, Cung Le delivers the kick that may have broken Frank Shamrock’s arm. Le captured the Strikeforce middleweight title when defending champion Shamrock could not continue after the third round.

SAN JOSE – In a bruising battle of Bay Area rivals, undefeated Cung Le broke the right arm of defending champion Frank Shamrock en route to capturing the Strikeforce middleweight title with a thrilling, give-and-take, crowd-pleasing third-round TKO Saturday on Showtime.

The long-awaited, eagerly anticipated mixed martial arts event, presented by EliteXC and Strikeforce, attracted an enthusiastic, well-behaved crowd of 16,326 at the HP Pavilion that produced a gate of more than $1 million. Those in attendance included EliteXC standouts Kimbo Slice, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz and Phil Baroni.

The fight card aired on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).

Gilbert Melendez (14-1) of San Francisco successfully defended his Strikeforce lightweight belt with a second-round knockout over hard-trying but outclassed Gabe Lemley (11-7) of New London, Iowa, in a second world title match on a five-bout telecast.

In other televised scraps, Drew Fickett (32-5) of Tucson, Ariz., earned a shot at the vacant EliteXC welterweight crown against Jake Shields by submitting Korea’s Jae Suk Lim (9-4) in the first round; super heavyweight Wayne Cole (11-6) of Oklahoma City, Okla., submitted (armbar) Mike Kyle (9-6-1) of San Jose in the first round and EliteXC standout Joey Villasenor (25-6) of Albuquerque, N.M., knocked out Ryan Jensen (11-4) of Omaha, Neb., in the first round.

In the top non-televised fight, Tiki Ghosn (10-7) of Huntington Beach, Calif., registered an upset three-round decision over previously undefeated welter Luke Stewart (5-1) of San Francisco by the scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice.

Continue reading "Le Breaks Shamrock in Instant Classic"

Melendez to Defend Against Lemley


Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Gilbert Melendez will put his Strikeforce world lightweight title on the line against Gabe Lemley at the upcoming Elite Xtreme Combat and Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The promotion officially announced the bout earlier today.

It was originally reported that Melendez, who has been advertised as competing in DREAM’s upcoming lightweight grand prix, would not be fighting overseas and would in fact defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello instead. The news came from the mouth of Marcello himself.

However our friends at MMA Junkie reported yesterday, through Strikeforce vice-president Mike Afromowitz, that the fight was never signed and an official opponent for Melendez would be named shortly.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury.

Lemley, who holds a second-degree black belt in Okinawan style Karate, is currently riding a five-fight winning streak and has won ten of his last twelve bouts. The Iowa native submitted Clay Guida with an armbar in October 2004.

Musical Chairs: Marcello Out, Lim In


Gilbert Melendez throws a right hand at Tatsuya Kawajiri. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, who will both be competing at the upcoming Elite Xtreme Combat and Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, both apparently have new information concerning their opponents.

MMA Weekly originally reported that Melendez, who has been advertised as competing in DREAM’s upcoming lightweight grand prix, would not be fighting overseas and would in fact defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello instead. The news came from the mouth of Marcello himself.

Now our friends at MMA Junkie are reporting through Strikeforce vice-president Mike Afromowitz that the fight was never signed and an official opponent for Melendez could be named as soon as this afternoon.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury.

Diaz will reportedly take on a recently victorious Jae Suk Lim, who won the SpiritMC middleweight title for a second time with a decisive win over top prospect Yoon Young Kim last Sunday.

The news comes from GracieFighter, a site maintained by Diaz’s coach, Cesar Gracie, even though Lim stated after his win over Kim that he would fighting inside the confines of ICON Sport in his next bout.

Diaz has not fought since being upset by KJ Noons in a bid for the vacant EliteXC lightweight title.

During his time off, Diaz underwent plastic surgery to repair a large amount of scar tissue that developed around his eyes. The scar tissue certainly factored into his loss to Noons as the fight was stopped because of several cuts Diaz had suffered on his face.

Melendez Returns at “Shamrock vs Le”


Gilbert Melendez throws a right hand at Tatsuya Kawajiri. Photo property of PRIDE FC Worldwide.

Gilbert Melendez will return to action against Chute Boxe coach Cristiano Marcello at the Strikeforce and EliteXC co-promoted “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The event features a highly anticipated clash between former UFC middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and undefeated Sanshou kickboxer Cung Le.

The news comes from MMA Weekly, who confirmed the fight with both fighters.

Melendez was originally scheduled to defend his Strikeforce lightweight title against Josh Thompson and then Bodog star Jorge Masvidal but both were forced to pull out because of injury. Marcello will fight for the first time since submitting Hector Munoz in September 2007.

Melendez, a Cesar Gracie product, was originally advertised as competing in the first round of DREAM’s lightweight grand prix later this month but revealed that he has not signed a contract with the promotion and is strictly with Strikeforce as of right now.

“This month, on March 29, I will be doing the EliteXC/Strikeforce show on Showtime,” Melendez said in the report. “I’ve got a commitment with Strikeforce, and I look forward to fighting in the States and getting some respect out here. I think it’s a great opportunity to fight in the Dream tournament. I love fighting in Japan, but right now I have a commitment with Strikeforce. I’m looking to just put my focus on Strikeforce; I’ve got a contract there and want to fulfill it.”

Strikeforce Formally Announces Shamrock-Le


Frank Shamrock interviews Cung Le after his win over Sam Morgan at Strikeforce: Four Men Enter, One Man Survives. Photo by Jon Swenson.

Strikeforce and Elite Xtreme Combat have formally announced that former UFC middleweight champion Frank Shamrock and undefeated former kickboxer Cung Le will finally meet in a middleweight bout that will headline a co-promoted event titled “Shamrock vs Cung Le”, which take place on March 29th at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

“This is absolutely a tremendous fight and an extremely dangerous fight for both fighters, but one I know they have wanted and the fans have been waiting for and can’t wait to see,’’’ EliteXC Live Events President Gary Shaw said. “I can’t wait to see it either. Shamrock is a true MMA legend, but Cung Le is one of the very best fighters around, and this is his chance to prove that to the world.”

Since returning to active competition, Shamrock has submitted Phil Baroni and knocked out Cesar Gracie. His lone loss since that time came last February when he was disqualified for illegally kneeing Renzo Gracie while he was on the ground in their bout.

Le, a San-Shou expert and former K-1 kickboxer, is undefeated thus far in his mixed martial arts career. His last fight was a win over former UFC middleweight Sam Morgan in November.

There’s no doubt that the weeks leading up to this fight are going to be filled with storylines. Frank Shamrock can sell a fight. Period. The pre-fight trash talking is going to begin the second after this fight is officially announced and it’s going to be fun to follow.

Guess what? The trash talking has already started.

“Being No. 2 isn’t such a bad thing so Cung has nothing to be ashamed of,” cracked the ever-entertaining Shamrock. “But there’s a big difference between being No. 1 and No. 2. Le will find that out soon enough. This is a fight that has been building for years. This is where we both grew up, where we both found our paths in life as martial artists and champions of combat. It was inevitable that we would one day face each other here. I’m excited it’s finally happening.’’

A lightweight title bout between champion Gilbert Melendez and top contender Josh Thomson was also slated to take place at the event but now may be canceled according to Sherdog’s Josh Gross, who is reporting that Thomson will undergo surgery on an injured shoulder later this week.

Tickets for the event go on sale this Saturday at 1 PM EST.

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