Strikeforce on Monday announced that lightweight champion Josh Thomson 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, at San Jose's HP Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 21.
The 32-year-old Edwards, who scored an unforgettable, first-round knockout on Thomson with a head kick at UFC 49 on Aug. 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 protégé Ashe Bowman during Strikeforce's second affair at the world famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Sept. 20.
"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 Gilbert Melendez at HP Pavilion on June 27 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 EdsonBerto, 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 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, Fla., where he has become a full-fledged member of 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."
In the main event, Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth will make his highly anticipated title defense against top-ranked superstar Renato "Babalu" Sobral.
Joe Riggs will make his return to the welterweight division in a featured contest with Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt Luke Stewart.