What's next for the winners at Saturday's "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu," including Dan Henderson (pictured), who smashed Renato Sobral in the main event. Photo by Jeff Cain/MMAWeekly.com
If you couldn't get excited about Saturday's "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu," well, you're probably wasting your time watching this sport.
All five main card winners come away from the show with an impressive win for them heading into their next fight. Since Strikeforce matchmaking always is an interesting process, here's some ideas for Strikeforce and Showtime to chew on while thinking of future fights involving tonight's combatants.
Dan Henderson — After being embarrassed by Jake Shields in April in a middleweight title fight, Henderson came back strong with a quick knockout of Renato Sobral in the main event of the show. This was a much-needed performance by Henderson, who, by virtue of the win and his stature in the sport, should earn him a light-heavyweight title opportunity against Rafael Feijao at some point in the near future. Really, there's no other direction to go with Henderson. Considering what's he's likely being paid, he needs to be in the main event fighting for the title.
Paul Daley — There's a few directions they could go with the hard-hitting Daley. Obviously, a welterweight title fight with Nick Diaz would be a solid option. That would be an interesting fight because Daley could challenge Diaz on the feet should Diaz choose to stand. On the ground, Diaz obviously is at a great advantage. Either way, it would be exciting. Considering how emphatic Daley's win was, it would be hard not to give him a title shot. If they don't choose that direction, a fight with K.J. Noons would be extremely exciting should Noons continue to fight in the welterweight division. And if you want to do a fight just for the sake of doing it, Daley facing Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos would be an exciting stand-up affair and would definitely set the winner up for a title shot.
Robbie Lawler — Lawler could be a big benefactor of Strikeforce's lack of depth because his 50 second knockout of Matt Lindland could very well earn him a title shot. See a recurring theme here, folks? Lawler has two first-round knockouts in a row at 185 pounds (his fight with Sobral was at 195 pounds), which could put him in line for a shot at Ronaldo "Jacaure" Souza's Strikeforce middleweight title. At this point, that's probably the fight to make. Only heavyweight really has any depth for Strikeforce, so Lawler getting a title shot is not a completely unfounded idea here.
Antonio Silva — With Fedor Emelianenko's status in the air, this could go a variety of ways for Silva. Strikeforce has so many talented heavyweights but two of them (Emelianenko, champion Alistair Overeem) are contractual flakes, so you absolutely never know what you're going to get there, and because of that, the whole division is a mess because you can't accurately make matches with those two always in limbo. If Emelianenko can be convinced to fight Overeem, go there. If not, Overeem against Silva for the title has to be the way to go. It's just a real tough situation here. Silva and Fabricio Werdum already fought, so that's out. So you're left with Silva to fight either Emelianenko or Overeem with Werdum getting the other. Fun times!
Ovince St. Preux — After his decimation of Benji Radach on Saturday night (his second win in a few short weeks), it'll be interesting to see what Strikeforce does with St. Preux. He's clearly still on the prospect level and has a lot of work to do, but because he's won his last two fights on Showtime means you might have to do something with him. To me, there's three fights for him at this point to see if he will make it (or to give someone a rebound win): Sobral, Mike Kyle or former light-heavyweight champion "King Mo" Lawal. A fight with Lawal is the direction I'd go in here for "OSP." If he beats Lawal, it's a great win over the former champ and if Lawal beats him, it's a solid rebound win against someone who's been featured on TV and is building a name.