Gilbert Melendez def. Tatsuya Kawajiri via TKO (strikes) - Round 1, 3:14, photo via Scott Petersen, MMA Weekly
Melendez is currently ranked #3 in the world in the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings. Only UFC champ Frankie Edgar and top contender Gray Maynard are ranked above him. With the Zuffa acquisition of Strikeforce, fans should be able to look forward to seeing Melendez against the division's very best very soon.
Melendez used superior boxing technique to hurt Kawajiri early and often and followed it up with brutal ground and pound -- including elbows which were allowed for the first time in Strikeforce competition tonight.
The champ came out aggressive and quickly dropped Kawajiri with a right hand, Kawajiri was back on his feet quickly but Melendez got the Thai plum and landed some brutal knees to the face. He then followed Kawajiri to the ground and took his back. Kawajiri fought back to his feet but took a beating in the process. Melendez then battered him from the top position with elbows that forced a stoppage.
The two met previously on New Year's Eve 2006 at Pride Shockwave 2006 in a fight that is considered to be an all-time classic by many fans.
Kawajiri came into the fight ranked #8 in the world in the lightweight division in the USAT/SBN Consensus MMA Rankings. His only losses in the last four years were that 2006 loss to Melendez and losses to Shinya Aoki and Bellator champ Eddie Alvarez.
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