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.
Also in action on the star-studded “Melendez vs. Thomson” fight card, Bobby Southworth (8-5) will put his Strikeforce world light heavyweight (205 lb. limit) title on the line in a rematch with Anthony “El Toro” Ruiz (20-10). Ruiz was declared the winner of their initial meeting on November 16, 2007 after a cut Southworth had sustained during the fight prompted the ringside physician to order a stoppage at the :52 mark of the second round.
“Mr. International” Shonie Carter (39-17-7), a star on Black Entertainment Television (B.E.T.)’s new mixed martial arts series, “Iron Ring,” will battle 27-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Luke Stewart (5-1),
Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stud Nam Phan (14-4) will attempt to hand knockout artist Billy Evangelista (6-0) the first loss of his career.