by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
In the latest of late-notice replacements to hit Strikeforce, Mitsuhiro Ishida will step in for an injured Josh Thomson to face Gilbert Melendez for the interim Strikeforce lightweight title.
The news was first reported by graciefighter.com, and Strikeforce Director of Communications Mike Afromowitz subsequently confirmed the information with MMAWeekly.com on Thursday afternoon.
According to Afromowitz, Thomson was denied clearance to fight by a California State Athletic Commission doctor who examined him per the commission’s licensing procedures.
Thomson (16-2) first sustained an injury to his toe before his first title defense against Yves Edwards in November 2008. The injury forced him to withdraw from the bout.
Injuries would continue to mount for Thomson in 2009. Ten days prior to his first scheduled rematch with Melendez on April 11, Thomson broke his ankle in a sparring session and sat out for several months.
This week, Thomson said he had re-injured the toe after returning to the gym, but insisted he would make the Aug. 15 fight.
Sources tell MMAWeekly.com that Ishida had agreed several days ago to be a backup plan to face Melendez if Thomson had to withdraw from the bout.
There were early talks with Takanori Gomi to be the backup for Thomson when word of the re-injury first surfaced, according to reliable sources, but Gomi declined to take the fight on the notice given.
Thomson won the undisputed lightweight title in June 2008 with a dominating performance over Melendez. His prognosis for recovery is unknown at this time.
With Ishida stepping into an interim title shot with Melendez, Strikeforce still has four title bouts like it initially planned. The headline fight between Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, however, remains the only one of the four original title bouts that remains fully intact.