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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
When Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson fought for the second time in 2009, there was a stark contrast between the two fights, with Melendez vastly improved and appearing to be on another level than Thomson.
That was expected to once again be the case on Saturday night in the third bout between the two, but Thomson had other ideas. While he wasn't having much success through the first three rounds, Thomson completely changed the complexion of the fight in the final ten minutes, and nearly pulled off the upset by submission in the fourth round.
In the end, it was much, much closer than anyone expected, and Melendez held onto the belt with a split decision win. With how close the fight was, and with a dearth of challengers in Strikeforce's lightweight division, there was an immediate sentiment that the two should fight for a fourth time now after this outcome. However, Melendez said it was tougher to get motivated for this fight, let alone a fourth.
"It's tough to get motivated sometimes just because if I was on the other end of the stick and I got a good opportunity, it's a lot easier to get motivated," Melendez commented after the fight (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com. "I couldn't really unleash the beast tonight. I just kind of felt like I was in control."
He made it clear he's not interested in a fourth fight, flat out saying "no" when asked about a fourth bout. Additionally, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said it wasn't happening as well.
"The trilogy is done, and we'll go from there," Coker said.
Penick's Analysis: The sad reality about Strikeforce's lightweight division is that Thomson is still the top option for a title fight with Melendez. It's not really a fight anyone outside of Melendez and his camp wants to see a fourth time, but there just isn't much else available right now. For as little interest as their is for a fourth fight between the two, there's not much more interest in a bout between Melendez and, say, Pat Healy. And this motivation issue isn't going to be easy for Melendez to shake. It's a problem he's brought upon himself, but it's clearly having a negative effect on his preparation in Strikeforce right now. That's something he needs to figure out, because he's not being moved out anytime soon.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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