After Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields defected to the UFC following the last fight on his Strikeforce contract, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker looked to fill the gap by putting on a four-man, one-night middleweight tournament with the winner earning the middleweight belt. With those plans having been halted by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (the tournament was to take place at the August 21st Strikeforce: Houston event) a fight between contenders Tim Kennedy and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza for the vacant middleweight title was organized. Coker revealed to MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani this past Monday on The MMA Hour, however, that a tournament to decide the next challenger for Kennedy or Souza’s (depending on the outcome of their fight) middleweight title is still in the works but that it is undecided whether or not it will be a four- or eight-man tourney.
“That is the plan, but it hasn’t been finalized,” Coker revealed. “(The four-man vs. eight-man) is the part that has not been finalized because we have so many good fighters at 185 that we’ve been getting a lot of requests from our guys.”
MMAFighting has learned from Strikeforce Director of Communications Mike Afromowitz that the tournament will, at least in part, kick off on October 9th at a Strikeforce event held in San Jose, California. Coker also revealed on The MMA Hour some of the fighters on Strikeforce’s middleweight roster that have expressed interest in participating in the tournament.
“Benji Radach just called and said he’s ready to get back into the cage and he wants to be in the tournament,” Coker said. “I know that (Kazuo) Misaki and Melvin Manhoef want to be in the tournament. So we’re going through the process right now and we’ll probably have an answer in a week.”
Strikeforce has a solid middleweight division and their tournament could pull from a talent pool including Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Dan Henderson, Cung Le, Scott Smith, Nick Diaz, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, Luke Rockhold and more, making the prospect of a middleweight tournament all the more exciting.