There’s been a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm over Strikeforce’s unveiling of their heavyweight Grand-Prix which begins in February.
There was a collective sigh of relief when major stars like Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem were announced as competitors, alongside other big names like Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett and Andrei Arlovski.
That leaves just one big name Strikeforce heavyweight who’s now conspicuous by his absence – Bobby Lashley.
When the former WWE star signed for Strikeforce in late 2009 it was seen as a major move by the promotion, potentially tapping into the same fanatical pro-wrestling fan base that had helped make Brock Lesnar the biggest star in rival promotion, the UFC.
Lashley hasn’t enjoyed that meteoric rise however, far from it in fact. An easy win over former UFC fighter Wes Sims in his debut suggested that the 265lb wrestler was ready for a step up in competition, but Lashley himself appeared hesitant to do so, and in the end Strikeforce threw him what was believed to be another softball – the unheralded Chad Griggs who’d only fought once in the past three years.
Of course that fight would turn out to be a disaster for Lashley, gassing out in the second round and eventually being forced to quit on his stool as Griggs began to gain the upper-hand.
After the fight it was unclear whether Lashley would even continue fighting in MMA, and despite months later confirming that was his intention there’s still no indication of when he will fight next, or if it will be in the Strikeforce cage.
Given his performance against Griggs perhaps he would have been a somewhat questionable choice for the eight man heavyweight Grand-Prix, but I must admit to finding it strange that he’s not even included in the two reserve bouts given that the promotion were clearly beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel – bringing in fighters like 39 year-old Ray Sefo instead to make up the numbers.
It would be interesting to know if Lashley was ever invited to appear in the tournament or if he was just overlooked.
If it’s the former then that suggests he declined to participate which would speak volumes about his heart and ambitions as a fighter, and if it’s the latter then you have to question why he’s still on the roster as this is exactly the type of marquee event they signed him in for.
Either way it doesn’t look good. Hopefully we’re not subjected to more meaningless match-ups with Lashley paired up with unknowns to build-up his record in 2011.
With a place on the GP ruled out my suggestion would be to have him fight another fighter who, perhaps surprisingly, also wasn’t selected – recent signing Daniel Cormier who’s compiled a 6-0 record in a little over a year and with his decorated wrestling background appears to be the real deal.
This would be a perfect fight for either Lashley to prove he’s got what it takes, or if he loses, to help showcase Cormier to a wider audience.
Instead I fear there’s a good chance we’ll see him in some kind of novelty fight, such as taking on another former WWE star Dave Batista. If that is the case then he’d probably be best just to admit that he’s not going to cut it as an MMA fighter and return to the pro-wrestling circuit.