by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Fighting through the pain of recent shoulder surgery, a staph infection during training, and being sick for a week of his camp didn’t deter Josh Thomson from taking the Strikeforce lightweight title from former champion Gilbert Melendez last Friday night.
Admitting he was not 100 percent going into the bout, Thomson left no doubt in the judges’ minds as to who won the fight. He dominated the very tough Melendez en route to a unanimous decision win to claim the title.
“I was just able to go out there and implement my game plan and it kind of threw Gilbert off and we just went from there,” Thomson commented on the fight during an appearance on MMAWeekly Radio Tuesday. “That’s how it rolled and the dice kept rolling.”
Pulling off a win of that magnitude validates his standing in a stacked lightweight division, although many already believed him to be a challenge to anyone in the weight class.
Performing through various injuries and other factors before the fight helps Thomson to understand just how big the win over Melendez was.
“It makes me feel better about myself. It makes me feel like I belong at the top of the food chain,” he said. “I always thought I did, but the thing is, it’s been a while since I’ve beaten somebody that was up there. I just needed to prove it to myself.”
With his win on Friday night, Thomson captured the Strikeforce lightweight title, but he also earned a large target on his back as most champions do when promotions begin to look for challengers. Fans may not have to wait long for his first defense though as the champion is looking for a return in September.
“I will be fighting it sounds like in September at the Playboy Mansion, and I want to try to get another fight in here in San Jose in November, and we’ll see what happens then,” Thomson stated. “I’m just looking to take one day at a time. If I can fit three more fights in this year, then I will. I’m not looking to really take a whole lot of time off.”
As far as contenders who will be vying for the chance to face Thomson, the list will likely start to grow very soon. He did comment that he “highly doubts” that current undefeated lightweight prospect Billy Evangelista will make that list as the two have been training together periodically at Thomson’s home camp of American Kickboxing Academy.
He is confident, however, that Strikeforce will find him a quality opponent for his September appointment at the “House that Hef Built.”
“It’s all up to (Strikeforce CEO) Scott Coker, we’re going to see exactly what happens with Strikeforce and who they look to bring in,” he said.
Another intriguing storyline that could involve Thomson in the near future is a title unification bout between the Strikeforce champion and current EliteXC 160-pound king K.J. Noons.
“You never know that a fight potentially next year you may see K.J. (Noons) and myself to join titles. We might see who wins that fight,” Thomson said. “That’s just something that’s kind of been thrown at me a little bit, but you never know. That might be a fight we’re all interested in.”
For now, Thomson will travel to Las Vegas to watch friend and training partner Josh Koscheck take on Chris Lytle at UFC 86.