It doesn’t sound like Strikeforce is too confident they’ll be able to re-sign Jake Shields. Strikeforce hasn’t even had any serious talks with his management yet, and they’re already mapping out a plan for the middleweight title should he leave for the UFC.

In fact, officials for Strikeforce are already looking toward a future without Shields, should he bolt as expected. A source told there is a tentative plan to book fights in the division with an eye toward crowning a new 185-pound champion later in 2010, possibly at one of the company’s bigger shows in November or December.

The potential for a grand prix style tournament is not likely given the limited card space and television time for the summer shows that have already started being booked. However, some inside the promotion see the future bookings as a de facto tournament that will eventually fill the potential vacancy by the end of the year.

Fighters expected to be in the mix for title consideration include Robbie Lawler, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Dan Henderson, Jason Miller, Tim Kennedy and Luke Rockhold among others.

With high-priced fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson already on their roster, Strikeforce might not be interested in engaging in a bidding war with the UFC, and to be honest I can’t blame them. Jake Shields may be an elite-level mixed martial artist, but his grinding style has a way of sucking all the oxygen out of the room. He’s never going to have the star power Strikeforce needs to justify overpaying him.

Image via Esther Lin for Showtime

Update: Re-signing Jake Shields is definitely not a top priority for Strikeforce. Jake’s father/manager told’s Josh Gross he’d “like to be negotiating right now,” but apparently Strikeforce has been too busy with their event schedule for “serious negotiations” in recent weeks. They’re expected to begin talks this week, but it may result in Strikeforce just moving on and granting Shields his release.

Yet one source with knowledge of Strikeforce’s thinking regarding the 31-year-old Shields told the promotion has discussed releasing him outright before an exclusive negotiating period concludes three weeks from now. Once that expires, Strikeforce would also has the ability to match any offer made on Shields, whose 25-4-1 record features 14 consecutive wins since 2004.

“Can I guarantee that we won’t release him? No, I can’t,” Coker said when asked about cutting Shields. “It depends on how the last two or three weeks of negotiation go. I won’t be able to answer until negotiations are over. Is it a possibility? It’s a possibility. If we’re not going to be in the Jake Shields business, let’s just move on. That’s how I feel. This is a business. Jake has a career and a life and it’s not fair to him. But Jake is a guy we’ve appreciated having him as part of the family.”

Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t sound like Strikeforce is too interested in being in the Jake Shields business any longer.