SAN JOSE, Calif. — Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2), will set out to make his first title defense and, at the same time, look to even an old score against the only man on the planet who has stopped him in the heat of battle – Yves Edwards (34-14-1) — at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on Friday, November 21st.
The 32-year-old Edwards, who scored an unforgettable, first round knockout on Thomson with a head kick at UFC 49 on August 21, 2004, remains one of only two competitors who have defeated Thomson. The finishing shot that Edwards landed on Thomson was afterwards called “the greatest knockout due to a kick in UFC history” by play-by-play announcer, Mike Goldberg.
“I was better than him then and I’m way better than him now,” said Thomson who, one day before his 30th birthday, coasted to his eighth consecutive victory, a first round TKO of Lion’s Den protg, Ashe Bowman, during Strikeforce’s second affair at the world famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday, September 20th.
“This rematch is about winning back something that I let slip through my fingers last time,” Thomson explained. “It was a fluke, but that’s part of the fight game — anyone can get caught. I blame my error last time on my cockiness. This time, I’ve got to stamp my mark on it.”
His dominance of “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez at HP Pavilion on Friday, June 27th earned Thomson the Strikeforce title and a return to the lightweight division’s world top 10 rankings.
“I respect Yves as a fighter and consider him a friend. This is a business, though, and we know it so I’m going to do what I have to do,” said Thomson.
“It was a spectacular finish. We both scrambled and had a good idea, but mine was better,” noted Edwards of his first meeting with Thomson. During his 11-year professional career, Edwards has triumphed over a number of other notable rivals, including Rich Clementi, Dokonjonosuke Mishima, James Edson Berto, and Hermes Franca, whom Edwards defeated twice.
“Both Josh and I have improved. He’s always been comfortable in the cage, but his stand-up looks a lot better and he looks like he puts things together a lot better than he used to. He also looks even harder to take down than before.”
A native of The Bahamas, Edwards took up Karate at age nine and, soon after, began studying Kung-Fu. After relocating to Houston, Texas at the age of 15, he fell in love with mixed martial arts (MMA) and gradually immersed himself in various components of the sport, most notably Muay Thai, western boxing, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Edwards later dubbed his hybrid style of combat “Thug Jitsu.”
It is his passion for MMA that recently lured Edwards to Coconut Creek, Florida, where he has become a full fledged member of star-filled fight squad, American Top Team. “Being able to go with these guys all the time has helped improve my game a lot. I’m not lacking anything down here. I’m in a fighter’s haven.”
Tickets for Strikeforce “Destruction,” priced from $30, are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (408-998-TIXS), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and on Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
In the main event, Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) Champion, Bobby Southworth (9-5), will make his highly anticipated title defense against top-ranked superstar, Renato “Babalu” Sobral (30-7).
Joe “Diesel” Riggs (28-11) will make his return to the welterweight (170 lb. limit) division in a featured contest with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, Luke Stewart (6-1).
HP Pavilion doors will open at 5:30 PM for Strikeforce “Destruction” and the first preliminary bout will begin at 6 PM. The main card will commence at 7:30 PM.
Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, Strikeforce has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” Since then, it has co-produced the first SHOWTIME PPV mixed martial arts event in history with its world championship “Shamrock vs. Baroni” card on June 22, 2007 followed by the first-ever mixed martial arts event at the world-famous Playboy Mansion on September 29, 2007. On April 12th of this year, Strikeforce launched the first-ever 52 week MMA series on one of the four major television networks in The U.S. — NBC.