Strikeforce’s welterweight in somewhat in a state of limbo right now after long-time champion Nick Diaz vacated his title in order to sign a new deal with Zuffa that will see him fight Georges St.Pierre later in the year.
Not long after that announcement plans were drafted up for Paul Daley to fight Evangelista ‘Cyborg’ Santos for the interim title, but an injury forced the Brazilian out.
Up and coming talent Tyron Woodley has now been drafted in to replace him, but according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker in a new interview with MMAJunkie the bout will no longer be for the belt.
“I would say the winner of [Daley Vs Woodley] we’re definitely keeping our eye on,” Coker said. “I think by the end of the year, you’ll see a title fight happening,” Coker said.
More interestingly however, Coker then went on to claim that a new welterweight star could be about to join the Strikeforce ranks, and is of the stature that means he could immediately jump to the head of the queue for title contention.
“We’re about to sign another fighter that until it’s done I don’t want to say who it is,” Coker revealed. “It’s possible (the new fighter could immediately fight for a title). Maybe we’ll give him one fight, and we’ll see what happens. But I definitely think the experience will speak for itself.”
So who could this mystery signing be?
Truth be told virtually all the top 170lb’ers in the world already fight for the UFC so there’s not a great deal of choice here. With that in mind one fighter stands out like a sore thumb – namely Nate Marquardt.
Marquardt had intended to make his welterweight debut at UFC On Versus 4 before testing above the accepted limits for testosterone and subsequently being suspended by the Pittsburgh State Athletic Commssion and fired by the UFC.
In an interview since then Marquardt has revealed that his levels dropped to normal levels as little as a day afterwards, meaning that he now expects his suspension to be lifted shortly, and further confirmed that he plans to stay at welterweight when he returns to action.
Given that Dana White has said that Marquardt will never be allowed back in the UFC, Strikeforce is now his best option. The question is whether Zuffa, who now own both companies, will allow it, or if White’s no-tolerance policy will extend to both promotions.
If it’s not Marquardt they have their eye on then it’s hard to say who else it could be. Ben Askren is a quality fighter, but he’s currently tied to Bellator as their champion, while former Senguko and current Ultimate Glory fighter Siyar Bahadurzada is the only other man who features anywhere on the welterweight rankings list, but while talented he wouldn’t be considered a marquee signing.