Crossover battles have long been something that MMA fans have craved. Fueled by debates among fans as to where dominant Japanese lightweights rank against North American fighters, we've only recently had a number of fights that have cleared up some of the confusion. The most notable bout featured Japanese lightweight kingpin Shinya Aoki battling Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, a bout that ended in a dominant five round decision victory for Melendez. In the aftermath however, we found that there were still questions to be answered due to the limited exposure that many of Strikeforce's best lightweights have had against the best fighters in the UFC.
The debate continues to rage on within our own community and others around the Internet, and while no quick resolution to all of our questions is in sight -- Strikeforce continues to utilize its partnership with DREAM to make some of the battles a reality. Saturday night's Strikeforce: Noons vs. Diaz II main card will house one of those crossover affairs as former Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson (17-3-0-1, 8-2 SF) will battle a former consensus top five lightweight in Gesias Cavalcante (15-3-1-1, 0-0 SF).
Thomson is currently 9-1 in his last 10 performances with his lone loss coming against current Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez back in December. While he does hold a win over Melendez from their first meeting in June of 2008, injuries plagued Thomson for the next year. The rematch eventually came in December as aforementioned, and many fans attribute Thomson's poor performance to ring rust. Thomson is now aiming to put himself back into position to vie for the title once again.
But he'll first need to deal with the task of taking out the once highly-regarded Gesias Cavalcante. The Brazilian lightweight was, at one point, considered one of the best 155 pounders in the world when he obliterated the competition in two K-1 HERO's Grand Prix tournaments, most notably bombing Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro in 0:35 seconds.
Injuries have been a significant obstacle in Cavalcante's pursuit to stay at the top of the lightweight division however. Knee injuries have been a major issue, but he has enjoyed a recent history of being injury-free. Unfortunately, his return to the ring following those injuries came against top notch competition. While he did manage to exploit Katsunori Kikuno's weaknesses in his most recent fight, Tatsuya Kawajiri and Shinya Aoki were able to impose their gameplans and defeat Cavalcante.
All of these issues actually make this a pretty interesting showdown. Cavalcante is looking to stop his slow progression toward mediocrity, and defeating Thomson would certainly crush any of those thoughts. Thomson is eying a shot at the title once again, and Cavalcante is his means of possibly earning that opportunity.
Thomson is the safer pick here, mainly due to the fact that Cavalcante hasn't regained the form we saw three or four years ago. He isn't phenomenal off his back, and his frame is susceptible to rangier fighters. Thomson fits into that mold, and if he can utilize the kicking skills we saw when he defeated Melendez -- I think he stands a good chance at beating Cavalcante on the feet. If he's hesistant however, Cavalcante has the punching power to end his night quickly. I'll go with Thomson, but this could be a much closer fight than anyone anticipates.