A lot of people thought signing Fedor Ememianenko earlier this week was a game changer for Strikeforce, and in many ways that is the case. However, after looking at things a bit closer, there could be more to Strikeforce's overall strategy as of late. Admittedly, I don't have inside information in regards to the breakdowns of each fighter's contract with Strikeforce, but I'll insert some common sense. Basically, I'm going on the premise that all Strikeforce champions have a champion's clause in their contracts. I don't think it would be smart to not implement this sort of clause. This of course means they can't leave the promotion as long as they are the recognized champion of their division. Besides Fedor, there are a handful of Strikeforce fighters that the UFC would probably approach contract wise once their Strikeforce contracts were completed. Those fighters are Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, and probably Gina Carano. Let's take a look at how Strikeforce has potentially shielded these fighters from the UFC if this type of clause is in place:
- Jake Shields-He's a welterweight that's moving up to middleweight to fight for a Strikeforce interim belt since Cung Le can't defend his middleweight title. If he wins the interim belt, he'll face Le at a later time.
- Nick Diaz-With Shields moving up to middleweight..this allows Diaz to fight for the Strikeforce welterweight belt against Jay Hieron on the Strikeforce show in a couple of weeks. BTW, Shields and Diaz would never fight one another since they train together.
- Gina Carano-She's the face of women's MMA, and will be fighting Cris Cyborg for the newly created Strikeforce women's title.
It's not secret that Jake Shields has stated that he would like to fight in the UFC. Nick Diaz is a UFC veteran and given the right amount of money could be persuaded to go back. Gina Carano has had talks with the UFC in the past as well. What this does is protect 3 fighters that the UFC would covet given the opportunity to sign them. It also helps establish their own weight divisions with proven fighters as champions even though they may not be considered the 'best' in the world by some or most. All of this is dependent upon these fighters winning their respective fights and the champions clause being implemented. It could all be a coincidence, or maybe Scott Coker is already making chess moves. Thoughts?