Strikeforce: Stuck in the Middle(weight) with You

Strikeforce’s 185-pound roster is without a doubt the best single-weight class roster in America outside of Zuffa. Some of its inhabitants include middleweight champ Cung Le, EliteXC middleweight champ “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock, Scott Smith, Benji Radach, Joey Villasenor, Evangelista Santos, Kazuo Misaki, and even welterweight-turned-middleweight Jake Shields. U.S. Army Ranger Tim Kennedy is rumored to be on the way as well and they have some prospects in the Challenger Series like Cory Devela and Luke Rockhold, who are scheduled to fight later this month.

That’s solid but here’s six guys that could take Strikeforce’s middleweight division to that “ultimate” level.

Paulo Filho
This was the guy everyone thought could end Anderson Silva’s reign of terror, but as it turned out his inner demons got the best of him. His father was sick last year and the kid sank into a depression, and as a result, didn’t take his training seriously. Even after the Brazilian checked into a substance abuse rehab facility to receive treatment and get his head straight, it was still abundantly clear when he fought Chael Sonnen the second time that he wasn’t the same submission bulldozer he once was. Filho’s body was in the WEC cage last November, but his soul was back in a Brazilian rehab facility. Dude wasn’t in the right mental state.

He’ll return from an eight-month layoff to fight Melvin Manhoef at Dream 10 in July and if Filho returns to his old form, then Strikeforce could certainly use him. His stand-up is always improving (just ask Joe Doerksen) and his jiu-jitsu is still ungodly (just ask Chael Sonnen). The Brazilian refused to sign with Bellator earlier this year because he wanted to fight consistently and with Strikeforce throwing on a plethora of shows this year, the organization could be the perfect home for him. And he could eventually re-introduce the argument that he’s he man to topple his BFF’s dominance at 185.

Vitor Belfort
The former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has re-created himself as a middleweight in Affliction and to his credit, he’s knocked out both Terry Martin and Matt Lindland. Belfort looks crisp at 185, but the clothing goliath doesn’t really have any contenders to feed this Brazilian beast. And, by the looks of it, WAMMA won’t be creating a middleweight title any time soon, if ever.

Fortunately, it appears as if Affliction is lending some talent to Strikeforce as Andrei Arlovski is set to battle Brett Rogers this coming weekend. Perhaps Belfort will land in Strikeforce within the near future and clash with their ferocious pool of fighters. With monthly Strikeforce shows on the horizon, it sounds like a win-win.

Matt Lindland
Even though Rampage Jackson calls him smelly, Matt Lindland is pretty bad ass. He’s always been considered top ten fighter until his brutal knockout loss to Belfort at Affliction: Day Of Reckoning. So what? To win some, you got to lose every now and again. Regardless, this smelly grappler could give even more street credibility to S-Force.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller
Mayhem is a nomad. He comes and goes where he pleases. But other than that Jacare character, who is really left for Mayhem to fight that isn’t bound to an exclusive contract? And out of those dudes, who will actually provide him with a real challenge and raise his stock (other than the few nomads listed in this list)?

Nomadic lifestyle aside, Mr. Strip Of Doom is a perfect fit for the California-based fight promotion. There’s a lot of contenders available for him to fight and he could throw down on a consistent basis. Plus with him hosting Bully Beatdown on MTV, he’s bringing a new audience to the sport and converting them into “Mayhem Monkeys.” That’s something an organization like Strikeforce could benefit from.

Jason MacDonald
J-Mac just got cut from the UFC and it’s a damn shame too because this guy always came to fight. He’s tall for a middleweight (6’2”), he makes a pretty good size cut and has a sick submission game. Dude could hang with Damien Maia … at least for three rounds anyways.

Unfortunately he’s been on rough times having been cut by Zuffa as the “TUF Killer” was killed by TUF alum Nate Quarry back in April, losing five of his last eight. Nevertheless, “The Athlete” (which is one of the shittiest nicknames in the world) should take a break, work on his striking a bit and then find a promotion game to bring him on board. He comes to play and Strikeforce would supply a healthy amount of quality competition to get things moving along for him.

Jorge Santiago
This guy has been at tha’ Force many times before. He knocked out Joe Riggs not too long ago and before that, he won the Strikeforce at the “Four Men Enter, One Man Survives” tournament when he defeated Sean Salmon and Trevor Prangley. And in January, he defeated Kazuo Misaki at Sengoku. Ever since he got canned from the UFC, he’s been on a nine-fight win streak and he’s been looking nasty as hell. Already with a working relationship with organization, Strikeforce should work at having a long-term marriage with this dude.

These are the chosen middleweights. They might not be able to change the world like Eric Clapton, Babyface or even Wynonna Judd, but they could help make Strikeforce’s 185-pound class the “ultimate” rival and counterpart to the UFC.

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