The middleweight tournament that never was.
That may be the best way to describe Strikeforce’s efforts to put together a 185-pound divisional tournament over the last year to either determine a No. 1 contender or a champion, but neither ended up happening. At this point, the premise has been laid to rest.
Following former champion Jake Shields’ defection to the UFC, Strikeforce had talked for several months about a tournament to declare a new champion, but instead opted to go with an immediate title bout between now champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Kennedy.
Rumors persisted after the fight that Strikeforce would still try to move forward with a tournament to declare a new top contender for a shot at Jacare’s belt, but Strikeforce top dog Scott Coker says it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We were hoping it would happen, but it didn’t happen, and we’re happy with Jacare being our world champion,” Coker told MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I think he’s a great representative and a great fighter.”
Coker cited problems with putting together a one-night tournament with virtually any athletic commission, along with a myriad of other problems, so the promotion decided against it at this time.
Strikeforce did manage to put on a tournament in the women’s division back in August under modified rules. Prior to that, the last time Strikeforce put on a tournament was in November 2007 when they held a one-night four-man middleweight tournament where Jorge Santiago walked away as the big winner that night.
Coker did say that Strikeforce has plenty of challengers that could rise up to take a shot at Jacare in 2011 including Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II middleweight fighters Matt Lindland and Robbie Lawler. Names like Jason “Mayhem” Miller have also been thrown around as possible contenders, and a future rematch with Tim Kennedy could also play out.
Strikeforce plans on several fights between now and February 2011 to determine who will get the next middleweight title shot.