It seems that Fabricio Werdum may be the latest Strikeforce heavyweight fighter to play the ‘hard to get’ routine if his latest comments are to be believed.

Werdum’s stock sky-rocketed earlier this year when he broke Fedor Emelianenko’s 10 year unbeaten run by submitting him in just 69 seconds during a Strikeforce event.

Any hopes of a quick rematch or another major fight for the Brazilian were dashed when he then opted to have an operation on a nagging arm injury. Now that he’s on the mend it seems he’s in no immediate rush to return to the promotion.

“Strikeforce want me to return in March against Fedor [Emelianenko] or [Alistair] Overeem, but I’m looking forward to having a fight before that one,” Werdum tells Sherdog in a new interview. “I don’t have an exclusive contract with Strikeforce, only for the U.S., and I got a nice proposal in Abu Dhabi and another one in Japan…My arm is 100 percent now and I feel that by February, I’ll be ready to fight in Abu Dhabi or Japan.”

This news only reinforces why the UFC’s policy of insisting on exclusive fight deals is the right way to go. As it stands Strikeforce’s major stars have to much says in what happens due to their non-exclusive contracts.

That’s why Overeem has only defended his title once in the three years he’s held it, is currently competing in a K-1 tournament and doesn’t plan on returning to the promotion until the summer of next year. It’s also why Fedor has still only fought twice since signing for Strikeforce 18 months ago, and now Werdum is heading down the same path.

It really is a farcical situation and one that makes a mockery of Scott Coker’s claim that 2011 will be the year of the heavyweights in Strikeforce in which, “all the fighters will face each other.” They’ve done well to amass a worthy pool of talent in the heavyweight division but if they can’t get the fighters to actually fight then it’s as much use as a chocolate gum shield.

I think it’s time for Coker and Co to start getting tough with their fighters instead of being used as a doormat. They are the second biggest promotion in the sport after all and need to starting acting like it. That means clamping down on the contract situation from now on – cutting back on future non-exclusive deals, and /or at the very least obligating fighters to compete for the promotion twice a year as a minimum requirement.