Strikeforce “Miami” post-fight news and notes…
Who’s next for Nick Diaz?
Nick Diaz emerged victorious last night to become the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. No one saw it thanks to EA Sports dropping the ball with their live stream, but Jay Hieron defeated Joe Riggs in the prelims. That means Diaz vs. Hieron for the title next, right? Well maybe not. Apparently, Jay Hieron is a free agent and Scott Coker is leaning towards giving Hayato “Mach” Sakurai the next title shot.
Most people thought Jay Hieron earned a shot at the welterweight title by defeating Joe Riggs, but Coker said it’s more likely that Sakurai will be the challenger in Diaz’s first title defense. Sakurai fights for Dream, and Coker said Strikeforce’s co-promotional arrangement with Dream ensures that “I could get it done.” Hieron’s win over Riggs was the last fight on his Strikeforce contract, and it’s not clear whether Hieron will return to the promotion.
Hieron wants the fight, but he’ll have to re-sign with Strikeforce to get it and there’s no guarantee he will. Sakurai isn’t particularly appealing to Diaz, and to be honest, it’s not too appealing to me either. If Strikeforce can’t work out a deal with Hieron that gives him first dibs on Diaz, I say they get KJ Noons in there with Nick. That fight needs to happen sooner or later.
What to do with Bobby Lashley?
Wes Sims was fired up following his loss to Bobby Lashley last night. He felt Troy Waugh ended the fight way too early and nearly got in a scrap with Lashley backstage because of it. Whether it was stopped early or not, an out-of-shape Sims is not the kind of opponent anyone wants to see Lashley fighting moving forward. Lashley would prefer to slowly work his way through the ranks, but if everyone keeps pressuring him to fight better opponents, he figures he might as well fight the best Strikeforce has to offer.
“Well, it’s one of two things. Either they’re going to allow me do it the way I wanna do it and build, or they’re going to give me a title shot. Either or. I would like a title shot. I guess it’s Overeem, he’s the one who has the title right now. Him or Fedor, whoever. I wanted to take my time to build up but everyone’s pushing me to get bigger and better fights so if I’m going to get bigger and better fights let’s go for the best.”
It would be foolish to put him in with Fedor or Overeem at this point. He’s just not ready for those guys yet, but there is middle ground for Lashley even if he doesn’t see it. It still might be too much, too soon for Lashley, but Scott Coker wants to pit him against Brett Rogers next. I’d argue he’s not ready for Rogers yet either, but hey, it’s better than watching him fight another can, right?
Walker donating “six-figure” payday to charity
Putting a 47-year old with three months of MMA training in the national spotlight was an experiment that could have went horribly awry. It didn’t. Not only did Herschel not embarrass himself and Strikeforce for that matter, he actually showed a lot of promise as a fighter. Of course at 47-years of age, he doesn’t have the time to develop into a elite fighter, but it doesn’t mean his MMA career is over. At this point, it’s up in the air, but Scott Coker isn’t against promoting another Herschel Walker fight.
So, have Walker and Coker discussed a possible second bout to capitalize on the first-fight success?
“No, not yet,” Coker said. “We didn’t look that far ahead. We just said, ‘Let’s go through the first fight and take it from there.'”
But in light of the win, would Coker greenlight a second bout?
“Sure, why not?” he said.
It’s hardly a surprising reaction considering all the attention and press Herschel garnered for Strikeforce. They rewarded him with a “six-figure” payday which Walker is expected to donate every penny of to Project Turnaround, a Dallas-based nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of urban youth. If there was ever a right way to do this, Herschel Walker found it.
Toughill next for Cyborg
After delivering another one-sided beatdown, Cris Cyborg appears invincible in the 145 lbs. women’s division. That doesn’t mean she won’t be without challengers though. Erin Toughill will get the next crack at Cyborg, followed by the winner of the 145 lbs. women’s tournament set to kick off this spring. Still no word on Gina Carano’s return, but if/when she does, expect Strikeforce to shuffle her back into title contention as quickly as possible.
– Scott Coker is confident he will book Shinya Aoki vs. Gilbert Melendez before the summer.
– The UFC just couldn’t help themselves…