by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce is usually fairly quiet about declaring a fight as a No. 1 contender’s match, but that’s exactly the implications on the line when Robbie Lawler faces Renato “Babalu” Sobral on June 16 in Los Angeles.
Strikeforce president Scott Coker made the announcement on Wednesday that the winner of the fight will have an impact on the title picture at either 185 or 205 pounds.
“That fight’s going to have a lot of implications,” said Coker. “I think that fight, the winner, if Babalu looks good and wins the fight, I think he will be first in line for a match-up (with) King Mo.
“I think Robbie, if he wins the fight, he’ll be first in line to have a title shot at 185 against Jacare.”
Robbie Lawler vs. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza seems like a great fight for the middleweight title, but what about champion Jake Shields, who still hasn’t officially left the organization?
“This depends on how things shake out with Jake. If things continue the way they’re going and we end up in a situation where we’re looking for a 185-pound champion, I think Jacare and Robbie based on opponents would be the No. 1 (and) No. 2 seeds in that slot,” Coker stated.
So while nothing has been determined in regards to Shields, it seems back-up plans are already in place if the Cesar Gracie trained fighter moves on to the UFC, as all signs have been pointing.
The back-up plan could simply be a title fight to declare a new champion, or possibly a middleweight tournament, which has been mentioned in the past as well. Coker says more details will be revealed about that very soon.
“We’ll probably have an announcement in the next 10 days or so,” he said in response to what will happen with the middleweight division.
The other question looming is the recent statement by Sobral about not fighting his teammate and friend “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal, and the announcement on Wednesday that if he gets past Lawler a title shot against “King Mo” hangs in the balance.
“If that’s the fight that’s on the table, that the fans are clamoring for, then we’ll do what we have to do,” said Richard Wilner, Sobral’s manager. “If the question is who do we want to fight, I can easily answer that question, and the answer to that question is Dan Henderson and Gegard Mousasi.”
A lot of questions should be answered on June 16 in regards to the title situation in the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions.