Josh Thomson walked away a winner on Saturday night, though you would hardly know it from listening to him.
“I’m very disappointed in my performance,” Thomson told Showtime Sports after outpointing K.J. Noons at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. “I got the win, but I hate fighting like that. It disappoints me that people booed. This is the entertainment business, and that is not the way I like to win.”
Thomson earned a unanimous decision over Noons in the co-main event of Strikeforce “Tate vs. Rousey,” grinding out scores of 29-28 across the board by using a grueling wrestling attack to neutralize Noons’ striking.
“Taking him down and getting the win -- that should be expected from me. I’m a good wrestler and I’m good at submissions,” said Thomson. “He’s a great competitor. I can’t say anything bad about the guy. He’s unbelievable.”
Normally known for his excellent conditioning and rapid fight pace, the American Kickboxing Academy standout appeared sluggish on Saturday, even as he managed to frustrate Noons by continually planting the standup specialist on his backside and controlling most of the bout from top position.
Thomson has also become known for his bad luck with injuries. After falling to Tatsuya Kawajiri on New Year’s Eve 2010, Thomson suffered a foot ailment that prevented him from competing against Maximo Blanco last September.
“We tried something new for this camp. We tried to switch it up and [minimize the possibility] of me getting hurt. Obviously, you saw tonight that it didn’t work,” said Thomson. “I had a long camp; 12 weeks is plenty of time to get in shape. [After] 15 months off, coming back, I got [a] staph [infection] twice. That was two weeks of my camp gone right there, and I also got sick in the middle of that. I just couldn’t train as hard as I needed to.”
Running low on fuel in the third frame, Thomson managed to secure an arm-triangle on his lacerated opponent, turning Noons’ face red as the native Hawaiian held onto his consciousness. Thomson could not find the required squeeze to finish the job, however, and Noons managed to escape the position to hear the final bell.
“I thought I was going to finish him in the third with the side choke. It was in deep. I heard him gurgling, but he just held on tight and was able to wiggle out,” said Thomson. “The blood had something to do with it. He got slippery, but he defended very well. There’s no excuse. It was a s--- fight.”
Up next for “The Punk” will likely be a rubber match with reigning Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. The pair first met in 2008, with Thomson taking a unanimous decision to capture the title. Eighteen months later, “El Nino” returned the favor and has yet to relinquish his belt, successfully defending the strap against Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki and Jorge Masvidal.
While that pairing is only a rumor at this point, Thomson is already looking forward to his next outing.
“I just know that I need to go back to doing what I was doing. There’s no [question] about it, if I’m going to go five [rounds] hard. I don’t know whether it was because I got sick and had staph, but regardless, I need to get back on track,” said Thomson. “I promise I won’t let [the fans] down next time. I’ll be in better shape, and I’ll make sure [they] get the performance of a lifetime.”