June 08, 2009

It was another crazy night of fights Saturday in St. Louis for Strikeforce. Highlights include the Shields-Lawler fight in the main event, when Jake Shields choked out Robbie Lawler in the first round with a beautiful Guillotine choke.

Also in action on the main card, Nick Diaz literally turned Scott Smith into a punching bag for three rounds before submitting him with a rear naked choke.

The newly formed promotional alliance between Strikeforce and Affliction was in full effect as Strikeforce heavyweight Brett Rogers took on Affliction heavyweight Andrei Arlovski. Rogers shocked the world and knocked out Arlovski in mere seconds.

This was Strikeforce's second event since purchasing the assets of Pro Elite and the future is looking very bright for them. Speaking of the future, let's take a look at what's in store next for some of the fighters who competed on this card.

Critics questioned whether a jump in weight was a smart move for top-ranked welterweight contender Jake Shields, but the former Elite XC welterweight champion silenced them with his performance against Lawler.

So what will be the next move for Shields? Will he drop back down to welterweight where he is already ranked in the top ten or does he continue to challenge himself in a higher weight class?

In the post-fight interview with Gus Johnson, Shields hinted at a fight against the current Strikeforce middleweight champion, Cung Le.

While that would be an interesting matchup with one of the best grapplers taking on one of the top stand-up fighters, the problem with that potential match-up right now is Le will be on the sidelines working on his movie career until the end of the year. Also is Shields really the clear cut number one contender to the middleweight title? One would assume that he would need at least one more win over a top contender to be in line for a title shot.

As far as whom that contender could be there are several options, including top ranked middleweight Kazuo Misaki. Misaki defeated Joe Riggs by second round TKO last September in his most recent Strikeforce fight.

Strikeforce has confirmed that Misaki will make his return to the San Jose based promotion in the near future. A fight with Shields makes sense and a win for Shields would put him right into title contention.

Another possibility is a fight with good friend and training partner Nick Diaz for the interim middleweight title. This scenario is pretty unlikely since they are both loyal training partners.

Now if Shields decides to drop back down to his natural weight class at welterweight there is an interesting option for him.

At Affliction: Trilogy, an intriguing match-up will be taking place between top-ranked Xtreme Couture Welterweight Jay Hieron and Paul "Semtex" Daley.

Assuming Hieron wins that fight with the recent promotional alliance between Strikeforce and Affliction, they could set up a cross promotional fight between Shields and Hieron.

To make that fight even more intriguing, why not have it determine the very first WAMMA (World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts) welterweight champion? Certainly that matchup would have all the makings of a great fight.

After his dominating performance against Smith Saturday night in St. Louis, Nick Diaz is now riding a two-fight win streak in the middleweight division

Diaz is one of Strikeforce's hottest commodities in terms of star power. At the young age of 25, Diaz is comparable to the likes of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Tito Ortiz.

Like Diaz, Ortiz made a name for himself with his brash personality and, at times, cocky behavior. Ortiz was either loved by fans or hated for his antics, a quality which mixed in with his talent inside of the Octagon made him one of the biggest names in the sport.

Diaz has the same type of superstar potential and after his recent performances fans are anxiously waiting for his next fight.

One matchup that fans have been waiting for is a rematch against Lawler. Diaz is the only man to have ever knocked Lawler out and though he is coming off of a loss, Lawler is still one of the top-10 best middleweight fighters in the world. A rematch between the two would surely produce fireworks.

Another option is for Diaz to drop back down to welterweight and set up a rematch with Riggs. With both fighters in the midst of winning streaks, Strikeforce could set up Diaz vs. Riggs II for the vacant welterweight championship.

The loss to Shields will set Lawler back but not by a lot. One has to take into consideration that Shields and Lawler fought at a catchweight and not officially at middleweight. In terms of the middleweight rankings, Lawler will still remain in the top 10 and it will take more than one loss to change that.

However, the former Elite XC middleweight champion will need a win or two in order to get back into title contention. An ideal fight for him would be to take on the winner of the upcoming bout between "Smoking" Joey Villasenor and Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos at Strikeforce: Challengers.

Though thinking outside of the box, Lawler would match-up very well with Affliction Middleweight Vitor Belfort. Both Belfort and Lawler are top-ranked middleweights known for their immense knock out power.

This fight is a dream match in the eyes of many MMA fans and both organizations would be wise to set this fight up. That is assuming Belfort is victorious in his next fight against Jorge Santiago at Affliction: Trilogy.

Heading into his fight with former UFC heavyweight champion Arlovski, Brett Rogers was a 3-1 underdog, but he shocked the world knocking the former UFC champion out just 22 seconds into the first round.

The win has earned Rogers a title shot against Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem on August 15.

Rogers is hungry for the gold and he definitely has the power to put Overeem to sleep. However when it comes down to technical ability Rogers is a bit one dimensional, while Overeem possesses good well rounded skills.

This fight has potential to be a very explosive heavyweight clash and the winner would definitely catapult themselves in the heavyweight rankings.

A possibility for the winner of that fight would be to take on the winner of the Fedor Emelianenko/Josh Barnett fight for the WAMMA heavyweight championship later in the year at an Affliction event.

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