As he prepares to clash with UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at UFC on FOX 9 on DEC. 14, UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson said on Thursday that his favorite foe was former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez because the two engaged in fight-of-the-year quality battles.
“Every time we fought, the fans were the ones who won,” said Thomson, during a press conference Thursday in Sacramento. “And for me that’s the most important thing.”
Melendez won two out of three fights from Thomson, but each time the two friends challenged each other both fighters left it all in the cage. Thomson beat Melendez by unanimous decision first to win the Strikeforce lightweight championship, in an epic slugfest in 2008. Melendez, however, returned the favor in a rematch, winning the fight by unanimous decision. The two fought again in 2012. The judges awarded the highly disputed split decision to Melendez, in his final fight before he moved over to the UFC.
The two fighters always brought the best out of each other and Thomson said he expects the Pettis fight to be the same.
“People like to make a big deal about me calling out Pettis and I have gotten a lot of criticism for it,” Thomson said. “There’s no disrespect, whatsoever. I pick fights and I try to get the fights that are going to make the best fights for the fans.”
Thomson, who knocked out Nate Diaz earlier this year, said he likes to make his fights exciting.
“People go ‘Oh, I don’t want to see you fight Gilbert again,’ but every time you guys always buy the tickets, right? And you guys always seem to tweet me afterward about how it’s the best fight of the year. So I am just doing you guys a favor. This fight right here [with Pettis] is probably going to be the best fight of the year.”