Not one to rest on his laurels, Strikeforce President Scott Coker continued to capitalize on the momentum and publicity generated by his recent signing of arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko.
In an interview with TapouT Radio on Monday evening, Coker announced that Jake Shields, the Cesar Gracie trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blackbelt, had been tapped to fight for the Strikeforce Interim Middleweight Championship. Although Coker is yet to name Shield’s opponent, the fight is slotted for October.
Shields, long considered one of the top welterweights outside of the UFC, recently entered the middleweight fray earning a first round submission win over “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler at “Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields” in June.
Riding a 12 fight-winning streak, Shields is poised to capitalize on the moonlighting Cung Le, the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion who has been absent from the organization for more than a year. Apparently, Le has his sights set on Cannes rather than the Cage. Coker explained, “With Cung, he has a couple of obligations . . . He has fight obligations for us, and then he has obligations for some movie deals that he has signed on to.”
“It’s retarded,” Shields recently stated of Le not being stripped of the title to Rod Moyer of FightLine.com. “First off, I think Cung Lee should fight me or be stripped. It should be as simple of that, but he doesn’t want to fight me. So I’ll fight whoever, you know, Matt Lindland, [Frank] Shamrock, Vitor Belfor. I’m willing to fight whoever they throw at me. I love to fight and I’ll fight anyone.”
With a record of 23-4-1, including wins over the final WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit and former Bodog Fight Welterweight Champion Nick Thompson, Shields is not only one of the world’s most feared black belts, but he is also blessed with boyish good looks that the Strikeforce organization would be happy to capitalize upon. The plan is simple. “We’re going to give Jake a chance at the interim belt. Then we’ll try to put Cung together with the winner of that before the end of the year,” elaborated Coker.
Now that Shields has been added to the Strikeforce October event, which already included separate bouts for Fedor and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, it will certainly be the most promising promotion put forth by the organization.
This effort clearly cements Strikeforce as a strong second to the behemoth UFC, and adds credence to the speculation that a competitive rift is brewing between the two organizations.