It definitely looks that way.
After Strikeforce closed their deal with ProElite late last week, Scott Coker mentioned in an interview with USA Today’s Sergio Non that out of the 10 fighters they had spoken to, only one of them wanted to “change their deal.”
It appears that fighter may be Jake Shields.
MMA Weekly Insider spoke to Jake’s father and manager Jack, who simply informed them, “We’re still in negotiations.” However, when they spoke to Coker, he intimated that securing Jake isn’t a foregone conclusion.
“Out of all the conversations, everything has been positive, except for one athlete that’s I think maybe trying to use this as an opportunity to get a better deal,” Coker told MMAInsider.
“Just like with Randy’s deal, when he was in the situation with the UFC, to do a declaratory (ruling), it’s going to be another six months for these fighters, and then we’ll be forced to take them down that path, and the fighter’s not going to fight for six months, and the court will rule one way or another.
“My lawyers (who) have looked at the contracts say these are valid contracts, these are contracts that were not going be a problem to be assigned. Either it’s a legal resolution, or it’s a business resolution. I’m all about the business resolution. So if we can get these guys going, and put them back to work, then let’s do it.”
As you’ve probably already heard, there seems to be some confusion over whether these contracts are transferable or not. Strikeforce believes they are, and assuming the ProElite contract Fightlinker dug up is consistent across the board, they believe it as well. I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t say one way or the other even if I had the original sitting in front of me. But, when it comes to contracts and the law, the one thing I know for sure is whoever has more money to spend on attorneys is usually the party that comes out on top.
That said, from Coker’s comments, it certainly sounds like Shields is using this opportunity to either get a more lucrative deal or potentially free himself so he can fight in the UFC, where in all honesty he should be fighting.
Coker seems to take a different approach than past organizations have though. Instead of overreacting and threatening lawsuits, it looks like he’s at least willing to work towards a compromise that would benefit them both. And if it doesn’t work out, settling it court is still an option.
How this will play out is anyone’s guess, but it’s hard to blame Shields for wanting out or at least more money after being put out of work for months by no fault of his own.