SAN JOSE, Calif. —Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wonder Nam Phan (14-4) will attempt to hand knockout artist Billy Evangelista (6-0) the first loss of his career during Strikeforce’s “Melendez vs. Thomson” mixed martial arts mega-event at the HP Pavilion on Friday, June 27th.
The 25-year-old Vietnamese-born Phan, recently promoted to the rank of brown belt, is looking to notch his third consecutive victory after stopping Shad Smith and Saad Awad on October 6, 2007 and February 16, 2008, respectively.
“It should be a great matchup,” said Phan, a resident of Los Angeles, California. “I know (Evangelista)’s pretty good at wrestling and ok at Jiu-Jitsu and he’s got great Muay Thai. I think his striking is better than mine, but my strength is Jiu-Jitsu. I always prefer Jiu-Jitsu and submitting opponents.”
Phan’s only other Strikeforce promoted fight to date, a meeting with June 27th’s lightweight championship challenger, Josh “The Punk” Thomson, recently aired on Strikeforce’s new NBC program, the first-ever 52 week mixed martial arts series on one of the four major TV networks in The United States.
Standing toe to toe with Thomson for a good stretch of the bout, Phan held his own, but took enough punishment to convince all three judges to award the win to Thomson.
Evangelista, a 27 year-old native of Parlier, California, is coming off a punishing knockout of Marlon Sims, which unfolded on the Strikeforce co-promoted “Shamrock vs. Cung Le” world championship card that aired live on SHOWTIME on Saturday, March 29. Prior to that, he earned a judges’ decision victory over Clint Coronel during Strikeforce’s historic event at the world-famous Playboy Mansion on September 29, 2007.
“I don’t really have a game plan for Nam Phan and I’ve never seen him fight,” said Evangelista. I know he’s good on the ground, though, so I just need to be prepared for anything that comes.”
Tickets for “Melendez vs. Thomson,” priced from $30, are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office (408-287-7070) as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (408-998-TIXS), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and on Strikeforce’s official website (www.Strikeforceusa.net).
Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion, Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (14-1), will defend his crown against number one contender and Bay Area arch-rival, Josh “The Punk” Thomson (14-2), in the main event of the June 27th Strikeforce affair.
In another championship showdown, Bobby Southworth (8-5) will put his Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) title on the line in a rematch with Anthony “El Toro” Ruiz (20-10). Ruiz was declared the winner of their initial meeting on November 16, 2007 after a cut Southworth had sustained during the fight prompted the ringside physician to order a stoppage at the :52 mark of the second round.
HP Pavilion doors will open at 6 PM for “Melendez vs. Thomson” and the first preliminary bout will begin at 6:30 PM. The main card will commence at 8 PM.
About Strikeforce:Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion which, on Friday, March 10, 2006, made history with its “Shamrock vs. Gracie” event, the first sanctioned mixed martial arts fight card in California state history. The star-studded extravaganza, which pitted legendary champion Frank Shamrock against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Cesar Gracie at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, played host to a sold-out, record crowd of 18,265. Since 1995, Strikeforce has been the exclusive provider of martial arts programming for ESPN and, after 12 years of success as a leading, world championship kickboxing promotion, the company unveiled its mixed martial arts series with “Shamrock vs. Gracie.” Since then, it has co-produced the first SHOWTIME PPV mixed martial arts event in history with its world championship “Shamrock vs. Baroni” card on June 22, 2007.