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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Despite the hopes of his trainer Cesar Gracie, Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez will not be facing someone from the UFC in his next title defense on May 19. Instead, he'll be taking on a very familiar foe, as MMAJunkie.com reports that Melendez will take on Josh Thomson for the third time on the card.
Additionally, a light heavyweight rematch between former Strikeforce Champ Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante and Mike Kyle is headed for the event as well, which will be headlined by the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight World Grand Prix.
The Melendez-Thompson bout had been rumored in recent weeks, with @FrontRowBrian on Twitter first reporting the possibility of the fight. It went against earlier rumors, which suggested that the UFC was going to bring over an opponent from their organization to meet Melendez, with both B.J. Penn and Anthony Pettis being named as potential opponents.
The two first met back in 2008, with Thompson capturing the belt from Melendez in a five round decision. That was the last time that Melendez lost a fight, and he would avenge that loss almost 18 months later in another five round battle. He's won three straight since that rematch, while Thomson's gone 3-1. Thomson's getting the title fight off of one win, bouncing back from a loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri with a win over K.J. Noons last month.
Cavalcante and Kyle first met back in 2009, with Kyle scoring what was, at the time, a very shocking second round knockout. Cavalcante would go on to capture the title three fights later, but would lose it in his first defense to Dan Henderson. He bounced back from that loss with a win over Yoel Romero his last time out.
Kyle has been extremely active since their bout almost three years ago, going 6-1 with one no contest. His sole loss came in a heavyweight fight against Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in December of 2010, a fight he nearly won in the first round with a huge knockdown before Silva recovered.
Penick's Analysis: The Melendez-Thomson fight was expected, but doesn't make it any less disappointing. There's really no fight for Melendez right now that is going to get fans excited in Strikeforce. The UFC isn't likely going to bring anyone over, and if they were it would have happened already. Until he's fighting in the UFC against another top fighter in the UFC, most are simply going to be ambivalent towards what he's doing. And he's got no one to blame on that front but himself for resigning with Strikeforce last February. As for Kyle-Cavalcante II, that's a really solid fight, and a chance for "Feijao" to avenge one of only three losses in his 13-fight career. This will be a solid overall Strikeforce event, but the longer the organization lives on the less exciting things seem to be as a whole.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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