Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts

Josh Thomson's last fight was Sep. 20, 2008, back when Kimbo Slice was still fighting for Elite XC, Fedor Emelianenko was fighting for Affliction, and Strikeforce was appearing on NBC at 2 a.m. on the weekends. 14 months later, and Thomson is chomping at the bit to defend his lightweight belt againt Gilbert Melendez this Saturday at Stikeforce: Evolution.

"I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that I perform well after this long lay off," Thomson told Cagewriter. "I expect a lot of myself, and I put pressure on myself to perform as well as I did the last time we fought, and when I fought after that. I had great performances last year, and I expect to keep going with that even though there was 14-month layoff."

Though this fight has been postponed twice due to Thomson's injuries, he is not concerned about being able to fight for five rounds.

"One thing I'm never concerned about is my conditioning. I actually think if this fight goes into the fourth or fifth, I think I'm winning this fight. I think the odds increase for me if this fight goes in the fourth round. He's really hard to finish, and he's got a good chin, so the odds of me catching him in the first three rounds are probably pretty slim."

A factor that Thomson isn't sure how to anticipate is ring rust, since it's been so long since he has been in the cage.

"Ring rust isn't really something you can deal with until you get into the ring. In the gym, you can't really tell if you have it or not. The crowd's not making noise, the whole spectacle of the fight, the pressure of the fight, that doesn't come in until you get there," Thomson said.

"The ambience of a fight, the crowd, fighting in front of a home crowd, title fight, Showtime being involved, that whole added pressure, that could possibly play a factor, but once I get hit the first time, it will all go out the door."

Thomson is looking forward to getting through this fight with Melendez so that they can be friends and possibly training partners. 

"We're just both looking forward to getting the fight out of the way. It's been talked about for so long. I hope I get the win, so maybe he and I can start training together. We're still going to be friends, regardless. I think our friendship has taken a step back, because we knew we were going to be fighting each other. So, here we are, hopefully I can come away with the win so we can go back to being friends and possibly even training together."

If Thomson keeps his belt, he is willing to face whoever Strikeforce puts in front of him.

"You don't really get to pick who you fight. Strikeforce just signed KJ Noons. He used to be the champ for Elite XC. I hear there's talk of signing Takanori Gomi, or Roger Huerta is a free agent now. Maybe they can bring him in and have him fight one fight in Strikeforce. I don't really care. As the champion, whoever they put in front of you, you fight."

Thomson has also spent his 14-month layoff from the cage giving time to a group that is close to his heart, "Knock Out Dog Fighting." He filmed a public service announcement for the group, and participated in a comedy night in San Jose to raise money to stop dog fighting. He says that he was inspired to become more involved with ending dogfighting after he became the proud owner of an English Bulldog.

"I always cared about animals, but then something happened when I got my dog. It became really close to my heart."

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