Pep Talk Q&A: Strikeforce & Shields’ Future
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I think it was a great night for Strikeforce on CBS. King Mo is a star and got a breakout win, Melendez beat Aoki and Henderson will be back at 205 where he belongs. The brawl at the end doesn’t bother me that much. It’s not that uncommon in sports for that kind of stuff to happen. Are you seeing the Strikeforce glass as half full or half empty?
I like to think that I’m a positive guy, but I see the Strikeforce on CBS glass as half empty. The biggest issue is that the ratings were down significantly from the prior broadcast and did about half the numbers of the shows it was competing against on NBC and ABC. At the end of the day, CBS will define the success of that event by one thing, ratings. By that standard, there is no argument that the show was successful. It wasn’t.
I agree that King Mo is a star in the making and that Henderson can make the move to 205, a weight that he’s told me he is much more comfortable at. That said, Hendo was Strikeforce’s big free agent signing and we can’t pretend that him losing his first fight in the promotion is a non-event at any weight. But losing to Jake Shields at 185 is a disaster for the simple reason that Shields is soon to be a free agent. Strikeforce President Scott Coker says they have an option for one more fight with Jake, but there appears to be a time frame involved that could set Jake free as soon as June. If Jake stays with Strikeforce, the Hendo loss isn’t that big of a deal because it made Jake’s star grow larger and if you still have that guy in your stable to promote and make money with, that’s a positive. On the other hand, if Jake packs up that larger star and takes it to the UFC, Strikeforce loses both ways. When it comes to the post-fight melee, I don’t think it’s a huge problem for mixed martial arts as a sport. A bad day for the sport for sure, but nothing that will seriously affect the UFC and the sport as a whole. The reality is that as the UFC goes so goes the sport of MMA. However, it’s terrible for Strikeforce. The UFC and Canadian promotion MFC have already talked about how amateurish it was and distanced themselves from it. But, most importantly, it cannot help the CBS/Strikeforce relationship going forward. Poor ratings, finishing 45 minutes late and a post-fight brawl can’t make CBS happy.
I’m shocked that Jake Shields dominated Hendo. I’m a big fan of Dan from the Pride days but I have to give it up to Shields. Does he get on your pound for pound list after that performance?
He definitely makes my P4P list after the Hendo win. I had Gegard and Hendo on the list before Saturday, don’t have them there now. I’d have him 7th, behind Anderson Silva, GSP, Fedor, BJ, Aldo and Machida. Winning titles at both Welterweight and Middleweight when he can make 170 pretty easily is impressive, especially with a dominant performance over someone at Dan Henderson’s level. Shields is on a 14-fight win streak and has taken out the likes of Yushin Okami, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Mayhem Miller and Carlos Condit is impressive to say the least. He hasn’t lost in five years and four months. Until he does, I think he’s safely on the P4P list.
I’m anxious for Shields to go to the UFC and mix it up in the Welterweight division. Do you think he’ll go to the big leagues and how many fights do you think he should win to get a shot at GSP? Any opponents come to mind for him that would be a good debut?
The smart money says that Shields will be UFC bound as soon as he becomes available. There were rumors that he was less than thrilled with the way he was, or more appropriately wasn’t, promoted coming into the Nashville event. The focus was almost completely on Dan Henderson, despite the fact that Jake was the defending champion. While a 60/40 split in Hendo’s direction might have been in line with their respective legacies, this seemed more like 90/10. Nothing spells exit like a champion who feels disrespected as his contract is coming to a close. More importantly, Dana White has already said that he will be interested in Shields when he becomes available. The UFC has to be desperate for new, legit opponents for GSP and Shields perfectly fits that bill.
As for a fight with GSP, I don’t think Shields should fight anyone before getting a title shot. Why take the risk that a completely marketable, legitimate challenger loses a fight or has a lackluster performance? There’s no need for it. Shields beat Daley who will probably get a shot if he beats Koscheck and he just soundly beat the former number one contender to fight Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title. It would be a huge mistake to risk the GSP fight. Three of the top four contenders in the division have already fought and been dominated by GSP and I can’t imagine why anyone would want to see one of those rematches over a Shields/GSP showdown. As I stated in my post-fight piece here on FIGHT! on Saturday night, I would make TUF 12 Team GSP vs. Team Shields. Rumors are that Jake gets free of his contract very close in time to when they’d start filming that season. It sets up a perfect way to introduce Jake to the UFC audience and promote the fight. And my guess is that unlike Seasons 10 and 11, we’ll actually see the coaches fight at the conclusion of the season this time.