by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
SAN JOSE, Calif. – In front of 7,488 screaming fans, San Jose native Josh “The Punk” Thomson became the new Strikeforce lightweight champion, dethroning former titleholder Gilbert Melendez in dominating fashion.

Thomson used his superior kickboxing technique to confound Melendez, who had no answer for Thomson’s attacks on this night. Using kicks to keep the distance, Thomson picked Melendez apart with his hands anytime Melendez charged in to strike. When that didn’t work for Thomson, he would take the fight to the ground and control him.

As the fight wore on it was clear that Melendez had been broken, looking rather tired. That has never been the case for Melendez in the past, who is known to have a cardio for days.

The same scenario played out for the entire fight as Melendez simply had nothing going for him in the fight, Thomson continually beating him in every step of the game, whether if it was on the feet or on the ground. Credit must be given to Melendez for hanging tough for five rounds, but the night belonged to Thomson, who walked away with a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the fight 50-45.

“I was trying to go with the flow of the fight and see what happens,” said Thomson after the fight.

In a lightweight bout, undefeated prospect Billy Evangelista took on southern California mainstay Nam Phan. After a short feeling out process, Evangelista took the fight to the ground where he proceeded to ground and pound Phan for the duration of the round.

The action picked up in round two as both fighters started to trade, Phan getting the better of the exchanges, rocking Evangelista on several occasions. Losing on the feet, Evangelista decided to take the fight to the ground, where he continued his ground and pound assault, which made for a close round.

In the final round, Phan again continued to out strike Evangelista with crisp combinations that had him losing his mouthpiece on several occasions. Evangelista tried to get the fight to the ground, but Phan defended well and continued his assault on the feet. After three close rounds, the fight was ruled a split decision with scores of 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29 in favor of Evangelista.

Bobby Southworth and Anthony Ruiz met for a second time, this time with the Strikeforce light heavyweight title on the line. In their first encounter, a non-title affair, Ruiz bested Southworth by a doctor stoppage due to cuts. Southworth would not be denied on this night, however, as he used a solid game plan of grounding Ruiz and controlling him with positioning throughout the fight. Ruiz had no answer for Southworth’s strategy. The fight slowed down in the later rounds and the crowd began to get restless as Southworth continued his ground domination. After five hard rounds of fighting, Southworth walked away with a lopsided decision with scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45.

Women stepped into the cage when Cung Le student Elaina Maxwell took on Northwest fighter Miesha Tate. Right off the bat, Maxwell landed an array of strikes before Tate was able to take the fight to the ground. Towards the end of the opening round, Tate went for an armbar and locked it on as the round ended with Mawell looking like she tapped, but the fight continued on in round two.

Tate again took the fight to the ground, controlling the round from the top and not letting Maxwell get going. Maxwell mounted a small comeback in the final round, stopping Tate’s takedown and getting her back. Near the end of the fight, Maxwell went for an armbar, but it was too late. After three rounds of action, Tate walked away with a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 on all three scorecards.

Kickboxing sensation Raymond Daniels made his mixed martial arts debut to much hype against local Californian Jeremiah Metcalf. Daniels was never able to get started as Metcalf quickly took the fight to the ground and dominated, mounting Daniels and pounding on him in fairly easy fashion for the entire opening round. The second was much of the same as Metcalf continued his domination from mount, forcing Daniels to give up his back and enabling Metcalf to lock in the choke at 59 seconds of round two.

-Josh Thomson def. Gilbert Melendez by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Billy Evangelista def. Nam Phan by Split Decision, R3
-Bobby Southworth def. Anthony Ruiz by Unanimous Decision, R5
-Miesha Tate def. Elaina Maxwell by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jeremiah Metcalf def. Raymond Daniels by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 0:59, R2
-Chris Cariaso def. Anthony Figueroa by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:34, R2
-Bobby Stack def. Jose Palacios by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Brain Caraway def. Alvin Cacdac by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:39, R1
-Cyrillo Padhillo def. Jesse Jones by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jorge Interiano def. Travis Johnson by TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage) at 3:00, R2
-Alexander Trivino def. Eric Jacob by Submission (Armbar) at 0:37, R1