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Gilbert Melendez vs Rodrigo Damm Strikeforce fight now for interim lightweight title

Strikeforce has upped the ante for the lightweight showdown between Gilbert Melendez and last minute replacement, Rodrigo Damm, when the two fighters clash this weekend (April 11) at Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Diaz" from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.

The promotion today announced that title implications are now on the line -- the winner of the five-round 155-pound bout will be crowned the Interim Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. What’s more, the victor will earn a title shot against reigning division champion, Josh Thomson, when he has fully recovered from a leg break that he sustained while preparing to take on "El Nino" to unify the title.

Damm, a Brazilian submission specialist who holds a notable win over current Bellator Fighting Championship lightweight contestant Jorge Masvidal, as well as submission victories over Kulter Gill, Santino Defranco and Naoki Seki, is a BoDog Fight and Sengoku veteran.

Thus far in his illustrious career he's finished five of his eight victims by way of tapout, including four of those by rear naked choke.

However, it's been a while since Damm last saw action. In fact, he hasn't competed since August of last year, losing for only the second time in his career at Sengoku: "Fourth Battle" by first round submission to cagey veteran Eiji Mitsuoka (15-6-2).

Melendez has spent some time away from active competition as well, with his last fight having been the loss to Thomson nearly ten months ago at last June's Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thomson."

This won't be an easy fight for the former champion because this fill-in has clearly got some talent. Still, Damm is facing a huge hurdle in not only having to fight on such short notice, but having to match up with "El Nino" when he's coming off a loss.

It's not an enviable situation to say the least, but still a big opportunity for the Brazilian.

"Shamrock vs. Diaz" will be the debut for the promotion on the premium cable network Showtime since acquiring select assets, including fighter contracts, from Pro Elite earlier this year. The main event features a 179-pound showdown between Bay-area rivals Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz.

The event will air live on Showtime, beginning at 9 p.m. ET on fight night. Remember that will be your spot for all the event coverage and LIVE results. Check in early and often … we’re now just a few days away from showtime!

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