Thomson Collides With Ludwig At Strikeforce Fresno Debut
August 27, 2006; New York, NY….Top lightweight contenders and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) veterans Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Duane “Bang” Ludwig will battle it out in the cage during the Strikeforce mixed martial arts mega-card at Fresno, California’s 14,000 crowd capacity Save Mart Center on Saturday, October 7th. The victor of the matchup will be granted a shot at Strikeforce’s 155 pound limit championship held by undefeated Gilbert Melendez.
“It’s just another fight to me,” said the 27-year-old Thomson, who made a successful effort in his last start that came against Hawaii’s Harris Sarmiento during the June 9th Strikeforce “Revenge” card at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion. In the third and final round of their matchup, Thomson forced Sarmiento into submission with an arm triangle choke. “Now I’m back on a winning streak and I’m just gonna keep whipping everyone’s ass in Strikeforce. I just want big money and big name fights.”
Thomson boasts a pair of victories in the UFC octagon and was triumphant in his sole start with Japan’s Pride Fighting Championship last July. His win over the dangerous Hermes Franca, which came in the form of a majority decision during UFC 46 on January 31, 2004, is still largely considered his best showing to date in the cage.
“I really wanted that fight because he had just beaten one of (my teammates) – Rich Crunkilton,” said Thomson of the defining matchup with Franca. “I just came in there very well conditioned and I wouldn’t quit.”
A former wrestling star for NCAA Division I Stanford University, Thomson found his calling in life when he discovered mixed martial arts half a dozen years ago. He has since rounded out his fight game by adopting the lethal striking art of Muay Thai and has gone as far as competing under Muay Thai rules twice. On both occasions, Thomson asserted his authority easily and stopped his opponent.
Ludwig’s appearance will come two months after the 28-year-old Denver, Colorado native staged another thrilling performance in K-1 competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. In “Superfight” action during the August 12th “Battle at Bellagio” affair, he was put to the test by a determined Fernando “Cool” Calleros and, after three rounds that were highlighted by heavy exchanges of kicks and punches, the bout was declared a draw.
A high-spirited competitor, Ludwig took hold of the ring announcer’s microphone after the decision was read and asked the crowd if it wished to see another round of action that could help determine a clear-cut winner. Ringside officials, however, did not permit an extension of the bout.
With his crowd pleasing, toe-to-toe fighting style that stems largely from his background in Muay Thai, Ludwig, the reigning International Sport Karate Association (ISKA) World Junior Middleweight Muay Thai Champion, has given mixed martial arts fans some memorable moments, including his willful run to victory over Japan’s Genki Sudo during UFC 42. On January 16th of this year, Ludwig returned to the octagon and stopped Jonathan Goulet in a mere 11 seconds with a hard right hand to the chin that put the Canadian on his back.
Four and a half years ago, Bang was taken under the wing of mixed martial arts legend, Bas Rutten, who observed the young fighter’s talent and fighting spirit during a grappling event in which Ludwig was competing. A year after the two bonded, Ludwig made his first big mark in mixed martial arts by knocking out former UFC 155 pound limit champion, Jens “Little Evil” Pulver.
While pursuing a major championship in the sport of mixed combat, Ludwig has also maintained a strong presence in the world of stand-up fighting. In 2002, he captured North America’s first-ever K-1 159 pound limit “J-Max” tournament crown, an achievement that helped him secure future bouts in Japan, where K-1 is headquartered.
Tickets for the October 7th Strikeforce event are on sale at Ticketmaster (559-485-TIXS) and Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as at the Save Mart Center box office and at select Save Mart supermarkets. Tickets are priced at $201.75, $151.75, $101.75, $76.75, $51.75, and $31.75.
The card will be comprised of 10 mixed martial arts bouts including a headlining matchup between heavyweight sluggers, David “Tank” Abbott and Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello and a featured contest between Wesley “Cabbage” Correira and Ruben “Warpath” Villareal. All bouts are subject to approval by the California State Athletic Commission.
The Save Mart Center is home to the Fresno State University men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as minor league hockey squad, The Fresno Falcons.
Strikeforce is a world-class mixed martial arts cage fight promotion that, on Friday, March 10th, 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 18,265 fans, the largest-ever attendance at a mixed martial arts fight card held in North America.