The new landscape of Strikeforce kicks off on Jan. 7 with the Rockhold vs. Jardine fight card from Las Vegas, and part of the mission for the promotion in 2012 will be to find champions in two weight classes where there currently are none.
Nick Diaz left Strikeforce earlier in 2011 to pursue his dreams in the UFC, while Dan Henderson bolted for a return to the Octagon as well.
That leaves Strikeforce searching for both a welterweight and light heavyweight champion, but the promotion hopes to fill those voids during the first part of 2012.
The welterweight division will find at least one piece of the championship puzzle if Tyron Woodley can defeat Jordan Mein on Jan. 7.
According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, Woodley is a lock to occupy at least one slot in a welterweight title fight if he wins his next bout.
“Yeah, I think you have to look at it that way. Tyron Woodley, he’s a product of our Challengers show, if you remember when we first discovered Tyron, and he’s proven to be an amazing fighter. He’s beaten some of the top guys and his fight with Paul Daley, I think that kind of put the icing on the cake,” Coker said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“To me he definitely deserves a shot.”
Woodley accepted the fight with Mein in January knowing it wasn’t a title fight, but also with the idea that he would be getting a shot at the belt with a victory.
He says that’s the only fight that makes sense for him after the bout with Mein.
“It will be for the title. I’m not even thinking any other way,” Woodley told MMAWeekly Radio about his next fight after the bout with Jordan Mein. “To be quite honest, I probably wouldn’t even take a bout unless it’s for the title.”
With Woodley solidified in one slot, assuming he wins, Strikeforce still needs to find the other viable contender.
Coker couldn’t lock anybody down yet, but says that they are working internally to make that decision soon. Already established fighters like Tarec Saffiedine and others are in the running, but a new signee could also make waves in the welterweight division.
The good part is no matter who is involved, a new Strikeforce welterweight champion will be crowned during the first half of 2012.
“I’m going to have to sit back and talk with Sean (Shelby) and find out what they have in store for new guys coming in. It might be one of the old guys, it might be a new guy,” said Coker.
“Sometime I think before summertime in 2012 you’ll see a welterweight title fight. T-Wood if he wins and another opponent.”