Melendez Miffed By Timing in Opponent Switch

By Loretta Hunt Aug 15, 2009
Gilbert Melendez said he can’t help but feel a little slighted by the way Strikeforce notified him of a switch-up in his opponents.

Melendez, the promotion’s interim lightweight champion, was set to unify the belts with lightweight titleholder Josh Thomson Saturday at Strikeforce “Carano vs. Cyborg” at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

However, Thomson reportedly couldn’t get medically cleared to participate and Mitsuhiro Ishida was ushered in as a replacement in record time, said Melendez. (CSAC Assistant Executive Officer Bill Douglas said it was Strikeforce that pulled Thomson from the bout, while Thomson said his doctor would have cleared him, but he and the promotion chose to remove himself from the card.)

Regardless, Melendez suspects Ishida, who bested the California fighter by decision at Yarennoka New Year’s Eve 2007 in Japan, was put on stand-by for some time beforehand, while Thomson teetered on his final decision.

“I feel like he’s been preparing for me and dreaming about me for five-and-a-half weeks,” Melendez told Friday following weigh-ins. “I’ve been thinking about him for two weeks. I felt like it was slightly unprofessional of the organization.”

Melendez said he was aware that individuals involved in the situation might have played dual roles.

Bob Cook, who trains Thomson at the American Kickboxing Academy, also works for Strikeforce as a “consultant.”

“That’s a conflict of interest a little bit and you really don’t care about it until it affects you,” said Melendez, “but at the same time, I do want Ishida. I do want to fight him. I want this rematch.”

Melendez said he will address his concerns with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker following the bout. In the meantime, maybe Melendez can use some of this unrest to fuel his second shot at the crafty southpaw wrestler.

“It took about two days (to switch strategies), but it was just a couple of things sharpening up,” said Melendez. “Thomson likes to move and so does Ishida, so that’s a good thing.”
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