Former heavyweight prospect Gian Villante will return to the Strikeforce cage on May 19 when the New Yorker squares off with Derrick Mehmen in a preliminary light heavyweight duel, the promotion confirmed Tuesday.

Highlighted by the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix final between Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett, and a lightweight title rubber match between Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson, the event takes place at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. Broadcast on Showtime Extreme, the undercard will immediately precede the main draw offering on Showtime.

Villante, 26, has won back-to-back fights after beginning 2011 with two consecutive losses. After falling to Chad Griggs as a heavyweight, Villante cut to 205 pounds, where he was welcomed coldly to the division by Lorenz Larkin. However, the former Hofstra University football standout rebounded two months later, taking a unanimous decision from Keith Barry at Strikerforce Challengers 18. Most recently, Villante dispatched Trevor Smith on Jan. 7, earning a technical knockout over “Hot Sauce” in just 65 seconds.

Like his opponent, Mehmen, also 26, has split his last four fights. Following a split decision loss to Gareth Joseph to begin last year, the American Top Team representative posted wins over Matt Thompson in April and Roy Jones this past August. “Caveman” was bested in his most recent outing, however, falling to UFC veteran Rodney Wallace via unanimous decision at WMMA 1 last Saturday.

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