Strikeforce: Shields To Stay at Middle, Fight for Interim Title
Widely considered as a top five welterweight fighter in the world, Jake Shields looks to lay claim to the interim Strikeforce Middleweight title sometime in October, this as reported by multiple MMA news sites and confirmed by Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker.
With his training partner Nick Diaz scheduled to fight Aug. 15 for the newly minted Welterweight title, Shields will follow up his destruction of Robbie Lawler by taking on another middleweight fighter that has yet to be determined.
Possible opponents are going to be rumored for a short while and could include fighters from other promotions, such as Paulo Filho (Dream), Jorge Santiago (Sengoku), and Matt Lindland (formerly Affliction). The rumor mill around a matchup with Matt Lindland has been pretty busy for quite some time.
The reason for this is most likely due to both Paulo Filho and Jorge Santiago fighting on Brazil's biggest MMA event in a long time: Bittetti Combat on Sept. 12, 2009. The event will feature some of the best MMA artists not in the UFC (Filho, Santiago, Little Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, and Jeff Monson).
With that event being so close to a planned October bout for Shields, there isn't much room for either fighter to recover, train, or possibly even be medically cleared. Likewise, the Dream middleweight soap-opera that features Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza takes place on Oct. 6; and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal (Sengoku) is firmly set in a Light Heavyweight bout with Don Frye in late August, the list of potential fight matchups is pretty thin for Strikeforce.
But bringing in Matt Lindland should not be the answer for a fighter the caliber of Jake Shields and a promotion on the rise like Strikeforce. And none of Scott Smith, Benji Radach, Murilo Rua, or Trevor Prangley have distinguished themselves consistently in recent outings. Of course, a rematch with Robbie Lawler is premature to say the least.
There are two fighters that have fought recently on Strikeforce that I would like to see considered for this interim belt:
1) Kaz Misaki - 22-9-2 winning four of his last five fights and is a top ten ranked Middleweight according to some prominent publications. Kaz put in a solid effort against Jorge Santiago but fell short to determine that promotion's Middleweight champion. However, he did just fight on Aug. 2 (a win over Kazuhiro Nakamura), but it didn't make it out of the first round.
The reason Misaki -vs- Shields would add some drama is that the pair had their only matchup ruled a Draw back in Nov. 30, 2003 in Pancrase.
2) Joey Villasenor - 27-6-0 and also winning four of his last five fights. Joey has a victory over Jorge Santiago during his four year annihilation run of King of the Cage. Most recently he has wins over Evangelista Santos and Phil Baroni.
The Team Jackson MMA product is always a tough opponent and doesn't get the respect he deserves in the MMA community but he has paid his dues to get a title shot.