by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Now that the last Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields is officially a free agent, but headed to the UFC, Strikeforce has already started to outline a few different ways in which they will crown a new 185-pound champion.

Most such plans center on a tournament, whether it be a tournament to crown a new champion or possibly crown a new champion with a single bout first and then hold a tournament with the winner gaining top contender status.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker spoke to MMAWeekly.com Radio recently and said the company has already had some pretty in-depth conversations about where they will go next now that Shields is gone.

“We spent about three or four hours on it today, mapping out is this a 16-man tournament? Is it an eight-man tournament? Is it a four-man tournament? I just don’t think a four-man tournament, it wouldn’t be a good representative of the talent base that we have. So I think we’d have to go to an eight-man, maybe even a 16-man tournament,” said Coker.

“It hasn’t been decided yet, we’re still trying to work out the kinks and walk through each process, but it will probably end up being an eight-man tournament.”

Some of the names Coker mentioned that could fill slots in the tournament bracket include Robbie Lawler, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Nick Diaz, Tim Kennedy, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Benji Radach, and Luke Rockhold.

“The other thing too is maybe we have a fight between now and when the tournament starts to crown a new champion, and then the tournament champion would fight the current champion,” Coker commented.

If that’s the case then a rumored fight between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Tim Kennedy for the upcoming Aug. 21 Strikeforce card could end up being a middleweight title fight.

Coker did say that former middleweight champion Cung Le would not be a part of the tournament, adding that Dan Henderson also would not participate.

The announcement about the tournament and possible title fight are expected to be forthcoming from Strikeforce in the next few days.