clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Strikeforce predictions and preview for 'Melendez vs Thomson' on June 27

strikeforce melendez thomson
June has been a busy month in the world of professional mixed martial arts and that trend will continue as Strikeforce will close out the first month of summer with a long awaited event of its own on Friday the 27th.

The promotion's lightweight champion Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez (14-1) will put his title on the line against the extremely tough and talented Josh "The Punk" Thomson (14-2) in the main event of what promises to be a very entertaining night of fights from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

With only one day separating us from Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thomson," let's take a closer look at the action and provide predictions for each of the main card bouts.

Lightweight Champion Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez vs. Josh "The Punk" Thomson

"El Nino" -- who is a high level Brazilian jiu-jitsu player under the tutelage of the esteemed Cesar Gracie -- started his career in October of 2002, proceeding to win his first 13 fights. During that span he notched notable wins over UFC lightweight Clay Guida and Pride FC veteran Tatsuya Kawajiri.

In fact, he appeared to be close to unbeatable before dropping a unanimous decision this past New Year's Eve to wrestling stud Mitsuhiro Ishida (16-4-1) -- a fighter known for his takedowns and excellent cardio.

Speaking of fighters with strong wrestling and excellent cardio, his opponent, Josh Thomson, boasts those same qualities. The difference between Thomson and Ishida, however, is that Thomson also has very good stand up, which means his all around game is probably just a little bit better.

"The Punk" trains at American Kickboxing Academy -- a place known for taking great wrestlers and turning them into all around dynamic fighters with very good stand up (see Jon Fitch, Josh Koshcheck and Phil Baroni to name a few). His resume is equally as impressive as Melendez's. His hit list includes wins over former WEC lightweight champ Rob McCullough, UFC fighter Hermes Franca, Duane Ludwig and Nam Phan.

Thomson's two losses were to Yves Edwards (KO) and Clay Guida (decision).

This is about as tough a fight to predict as there is. Melendez has world class jiu jitsu, but he wins most of his fights by technical knock out. Thomson has great wrestling and kickboxing, but he wins most of his fights by submission.

Something has got to give.

Melendez doesn't want to get caught in the same type of fight he had with Ishida (a wrestling match) and it's doubtful Thomson wants to find out who's jiu-jitsu is better. Therefore, expect to see a lot of stand up in this fight. Granted, it is a five round fight, so unless there's an early knockout, the fight will more than likely hit the mat at some point. I just don't think we'll see Thomson get submitted for the first time in his career, nor will we see "The Punk" execute the dreaded lay and pray.

Both guys pack a powerful punch, so I'm guessing this one won't go the distance either. In short, whoever comes to the fight with better stand up and better cardio should win. Melendez has very good Muay Thai skills and has eight career technical knockouts compared to Thomson's three. We've seen Thomson get knocked out before, but we have never seen that from "El Nino."

I'm sure Melendez doesn't ever want to get outworked in a fight again like he did with Ishida. If ever there were a loss for a great champion to learn from, it was that one. As long as he comes into this fight in top shape, I think the champ will leave San Jose with his gold.

Prediction: Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez via technical knockout in round three or four

Light Heavyweight Champion Bobby Soutworth (8-5) vs. Anthony "El Toro" Ruiz (20-10)

Ruiz defeated Southworth in a non-title bout back in November after Southworth sustained a fight-ending cut. A rematch at the time seemed inevitable and now there's a world championship on the line.

Ruiz is terrible on the ground. He's been submitted eight times in his career. And with Southworth having won four of his eight professional victories by tap out it could be a big factor. Southworth likes to stand in most of his fights, but last time he did that with "El Toro" it didn't end up to good for him.

With that said, Southworth is no submission whiz.

It would not be smart for Southworth, however, to trade blows with a powerful guy like Ruiz. If he does decide to stand and trade, he's going to sleep. At least by working some takedowns and looking for some submissions he'll stay away from Ruiz's strength and stay near his weakness.

It's a long five round championship fight, so if Southworth is smart (which is debatable), he'll work the takedowns like he did against Vernon White in December of 2006 when he won the belt. If not, like I said, night night.

Prediction: Ruiz via technical knockout in round two

Nam Phan (14-4) vs. Billy Evangelista (6-0)

This should be a high paced fight with some slick jiu-jitsu and crisp striking. Both fighters have solid grappling backgrounds, but can hold their own in the stand up department as well. This fight could challenge the main event for fight of the night with the electrifying intensity both guys bring to the cage every time out.

Nam has the experience. He's been fighting MMA professionally since 2001 and has lost two very close decisions to former WEC champion Rob McCullough and now number one contender for the Strikeforce belt, Josh Thomson. He's also been in there with JZ Cavalcante, albeit in a loss, but that experience is invaluable.

Evangelista is coming off a third round knockout win over Marlon Sims in March at Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Le," and before that won a split decision over Clint Coronel in September. He has a lot of talent and enormous upside potential, however this is a big step up in competition for him.

Nam knows how to handle adversity because he's dealt with it before against super tough competition. Evangelista, on the other hand, has not. This fight will be a barn burner, but ultimately, Phan will win a close decision.

Prediction: Phan via unanimous decision

Joe "Diesel" Riggs (27-10) vs. Luke Stewart (5-1)

This was supposed to be Luke Stewart against Shonie Carter, but "Mr. International" shattered his knuckle and Riggs stepped in on short notice. There's a bit of a weight difference so the two agreed to fight at a catchweight of 178 pounds.

Both of these guys are coming off losses. Luke Stewart lost for the first time in his career to Tiki Ghosn at Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Le" by decision, and Riggs was forced to quit after a back injury was reaggravated in a fight against Cory Devela at Strikeforce at the Dome.

Stewart is a great jiu-jitsu practioner who hones his skills on a daily basis with the likes of Jake Shields, Nick and Nate Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez over at Gracie jiu-jitsu. However, Riggs isn't too shabby when it comes to submissions himself. He's won 12 times via tap out in his career. I don't think he'll be submitting a guy the caliber of Luke Stewart, but his size, strength, and experience might just be enough to keep the talented Stewart from submitting him.

Riggs has a strong stand up game with big knockout power. Stewart will tell you his stand up game is something he's been working on and is not a weakness, but against a guy with the experience of Riggs, it could prove to be a problem.

So we have a striker vs. a grappler, but since Riggs has a decent submission game of his own and Stewart is still developing his stand up skills, Riggs' strength over powers Stewart's. I like Luke Stewart and thought he had a great chance to beat Shonie Carter, unfortunately, Riggs is a different fighter ... and a bad match up.

Prediction: Joe Riggs via technical knockout in round two

Raymond "The Real Deal" Daniels (0-0) vs. Jeremiah Metcalf (8-4)

Daniels is a world class kickboxer making his MMA debut. He's being compared to Cung Le and some think his potential is even greater. His confidence is through the roof. He's gone as far as to say, "I want to become the greatest fighter of all time. Anybody that steps in front of me is just gonna be on my next highlight reel."

Despite this being his first professional mixed martial arts fight, talk like that makes anything less than a knockout against a decent but no where near stellar Jeremiah Metcalf a big disappointment. Put up or shut up time.

Prediction: Daniels via first round knockout

Here's the rest of the card for Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thompson:"

150 lbs (women's match): Miesha Tate (1-1) vs Elaina Maxwell (2-2)
135 lbs: Chris Cariaso (6-1) vs Anthony "Antdawg" Figueroa (4-2)
190 lbs: Jesse Gillespie (1-1) vs Dave Martin (0-1)
155 lbs: Bobby Stack (4-1) vs Jose Palacios (3-0)
140 lbs: Brian Caraway (4-2) vs Alvin Cacdac (4-3)
170 lbs: Cyrillo Padhillo (1-2) vs Jesse Jones (2-0)
155 lbs: Eric Jacob (1-3) vs Alexander Trivino (1-0)
190 lbs: Jorge Interiano (0-0) vs Travis Johnson (0-0)

Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thomson" will air live on HDNet at 10:30 p.m ET on Friday, June 27.

It's going to be an action packed night of fights -- there are some really good match ups set to go off tomorrow night. At the very least the main event is a can't miss.

Therefore, set the DVRs if you must, but don't miss the long-awaited lightweight championship fight between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson. And make sure to check in at before, during, and after the show for all the coverage you can handle.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania