It looks like Fedor Emelianenko isn’t the only marquee fighter Strikeforce has to worry about retaining. Both Gegard Mousasi and Jake Shields each have one fight left on their current contracts which they’ll fulfill on April 17 in Nashville. If Mousasi beats King Mo he’ll remained tied to the organization due to the “champion’s clause” in his contract, however it doesn’t sound like it will matter much since Mousasi expects to sign a longterm deal with Strikeforce regardless.
“I have one more fight left on my contract, but we are planning to sign a new deal,” Mousasi (28-2-1 MMA, 2-0 SF) told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) yesterday in Hollywood, Calif.
The Dutch-Armenian fighter was thought to have signed the extension not long before he split with M-1 Global and accepted the fight with Lawal – though the contract’s “champion clause” extends his current deal for a year if he wins on April 17.
Sources close to Mousasi said the potential new deal will link him to Strikeforce for seven fights. That means a move to the world’s most recognizable mixed-martial-arts promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
“I’m being treated very well,” he said. “I feel like I’m a part of the family, so there’s no reason for me to go anywhere else. I fight also in DREAM, so I don’t have any desires to go anywhere.”
Jake Shields on the other hand doesn’t sound so committed. For some reason, he isn’t bound by a “champion’s clause” so even if he manages to beat Dan Henderson he’ll still be free to pursue other opportunities, and from the way he’s talking he’s definitely keeping his options open.
“I am happy with Strikeforce,” Shields said. “They’ve given me big fights like I asked for, so I’m happy with them. But also, I do want big fights, and of course the UFC has a lot of big fights as well.
“I try not to think about that too much; I’m just trying to get through Dan. This is the biggest fight of my career. I’ll just get through that and re-evaluate the situation from there.”
“I wanted to be a free agent,” said Shields, who’s also held EliteXC and Rumble on the Rock titles during his current 13-fight win streak. “I haven’t been a free agent in a couple of years, and I wanted the option of leaving Strikeforce. Not that I’m leaving Strikeforce; I just wanted the option.
“I like Strikeforce, so as long as it’s a good offer, and it looks like they’re going to get some good opponents – I also want to fight top competition, so it’s the combination of pay, exposure, and top competition,” he said. “Those are the three things I’ll make my decision off of.”
Shields has been talking about fighting Georges St. Pierre for years now, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he jumped to the UFC. The outcome of his fight against Dan Henderson will likely play a major factor though. If he beats Dan Henderson on April 17, there will be a demand to see him fight GSP, and we all know how badly the UFC needs welterweight title contenders. Of course, he has to beat Henderson to create that buzz, and that’s a very big if.