Why the Winner of KJ Noons vs Josh Thomson Needs to Be Next for Melendez
The Strikeforce 155-pound class is rife with talent. The only problem is Gilbert Melendez has all but wiped them out.
The Californian has long reigned as the organization's lightweight champion and now serving his second term in office, Melendez can have the benefit of facing new and stiffer competition. In the past, UFC President Dana White bluntly stated that the world-renowned fighter would be Octagon-bound, though an impending deal with Showtime quickly squelched those plans.
Now Melendez struggles to find suitable, or at the very least noteworthy, competition.
However, a pivotal battle between former champions Josh Thomson and KJ Noons could quickly pique the interest of the Cesar Gracie fighter.
Both Thomson and Noons will meet one another on March 3 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, where a women's bantamweight title bout pitting Miesha Tate against Ronda Rousey will serve as the headliner.
"The Punk" first struck gold in 2006 when he bested The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 vet Nam Phan, though the AKA fighter later became the organization's undisputed champion with a dominant victory over Melendez himself.
"El Nino" quickly reasserted his claim as the best 155-pounder in Strikeforce when he rematched Thomson a little over a year later, edging the UFC vet in a five-round thriller.
Noons, a former EliteXC champion, has since made waves in Strikeforce thanks to his boyish good looks and elite striking skills.
A former professional boxer and kickboxer, Noons has used his fists to best the likes of Andre Amade, Yves Edwards and Nick Diaz in the past. Since joining the Strikeforce ranks, the Hawaiian has gone 3-1 in the lightweight class, recently picking up a fan-friendly decision win over the homegrown Billy Evangelista.
Either Thomson or Noons are regarded as formidable and credible opponents and whomever the victor may be, that man will be the best fit for Melendez, who after three successful title defenses against Shinya Aoki, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Jorge Masvidal, needs something to keep him motivated.
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