It’s no secret Strikeforce is running out of title contenders for Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Nick Diaz realizes this and plans to try his hand at professional boxing later this year while Gilbert Melendez is calling for a title unification bout with the UFC lightweight champ. Strikeforce’s fearless leader Scott Coker however says hold up, we still have guys to fight Nick and Gilbert.
On Sherdog radio earlier this week, Coker sounded less than thrilled about Nick’s boxing plans, mainly because he wants Nick to fight Tyron Woodley later this year as well.
“That’s something where we’re going to have a conversation with Cesar and Nick,” Coker said Monday during a “Savage Dog Show” interview. “I know Nick’s always wanted to box. … We’ll see what happens in the future, but we’re expecting Nick to fight back in the cage before the end of the year. He’s going to be busy. We’re going to keep him on a busy schedule.”
“Tyron Woodley has been bugging me all weekend,” Coker said. “Nick doesn’t feel like he has anybody left to fight, but ‘T-Wood’ is a guy that’s getting better and better. I think Nick fighting ‘T-Wood’ is probably his best wrestling test to date. I don’t think Nick’s fought a wrestler that has better skills in wrestling than Tyron. That’s a fight we’re definitely looking at.”
I imagine that will be a rocky negotiation. Nick and his manager Cesar Gracie have shown virtually no interest in fighting Woodley anytime soon, and it’s hard to blame them. Plain and simple, it’s a very risky fight for Nick to take. Woodley has hardly any name value and his strength happens to be Nick’s weakness. If Nick’s going to fight a wrestler it really only makes sense for him to fight someone in the UFC like Georges St. Pierre or Josh Koscheck where Nick actually has something to gain out of the fight.
Meanwhile, rumors have been floating about Jim Miller moving over to Strikeforce to challenge Melendez for his title, but according to Coker, there’s no truth to them. Instead, Coker envisions guys like KJ Noons, Justin Wilcox and Jorge Masvidal stepping up to fight Melendez.
“We have some guys that are up-and-coming, we do some elimination fights. I think guys names like K.J. Noons; or maybe after a couple more fights a guy like Justin Wilcox, who is an amazing wrestler, could give Gilbert a hard time; or even Jorge Masvidal. There’s three guys that I think after a couple more fights could get there.”
“Yeah absolutely,” he answered when asked if the next 155-pound contender will come from Strikeforce’s current roster. “We have a great roster, we have a great television contract, we have our own contracts to fulfill with the athletes, and we’re going to go do that.”
Again, those are risky fights for Melendez as neither Noons, Wilcox or Masvidal are considered top ten opponents at the present time. Unlike Nick though, Melendez doesn’t have a viable alternative to earn a big paycheck while the UFC-Strikeforce transition plays out, so if he wants to get paid, those are the type of opponents he’ll be forced to face in the foreseeable future.