Nick Diaz is leaving the Strikeforce Welterweight belt in his wake as he heads up into the UFC, challenging Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship. So what is to be of the Strikeforce belt? There are a handful of guys who could all stake a claim to it, but here’s what we think will likely happen in the months to come.
Tyron Woodley and Paul Daley are about to meet and many felt it should be for the Strikeforce Welterweight championship. However, Strikeforce has other plans and until they let us in on them, why not speculate. Here’s a short list of the guys at 170 in Strikeforce and what their chances are of being the next champion.
Tarec Saffiedine – At 10-2 he has a great record, great style and is a legit threat to anyone at 170 in the UFC South division. He does have a loss on his record to Tyron Woodley who with a victory over Paul Daley will lock up a shot at the title. Tarec has an upcoming fight with Scott Smith that will go a long way to clearing the way for a possible title shot.
Eduardo Pamplona – Made his Strikeforce debut at Challengers event against an outgunned and outclassed Jerron Peoples. Has a solid 15-2 record but won’t be immediately considered for title contention based on one fight at a Challengers event. Could be a force down the road and possesses some serious skills. Right now he’s more or less out of the title picture.
Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos – At 18-14 he doesn’t seem like a viable contender for the title. However, he recently had an exciting fight with vacating champion Nick Diaz and is a scary test for the top three or four contenders in the division. He doesn’t currently have a fight signed, so you shouldn’t expect him to contend soon, but he’s a threat to anyone at 170 in Strikeforce.
Marius Zaromskis – At 13-5-1 he looks solid, but he’s a not so solid 1-3-1 inside of the Strikeforce organization and his next fight is at Dream 17 against Hayato Sakurai. If Marius can defeat Sakurai and do so impressively he’ll be back near the top of the line, but he is a couple quality wins away from any kind of title shot.
Tyron Woodley – Undefeated and talented, Tyron’s upcoming fight with Paul Daley should be for the vacated Welterweight title, but unexpectedly isn’t. However, whoever wins this fight will step into the title fight once the title is officially vacated by Nick Diaz. Tyron has won each of his six fights under the Strikeforce banner and has improved and looked solid each time out. He’s as talented as anyone at 170 and has to be considered a frontrunner to compete for the Strikeforce Welterweight title.
Scott Smith – Scott has a puncher’s chance against anyone, virtually anytime. He’s new to the Welterweight scene but could find himself in the mix with a win over the exciting Tarec Saffiedine this month. He’s lost 3 of 4 including his debut at 170 to Paul Daley, so it would be unlikely to find Scott involved in a title fight anytime soon.
Quinn Mulhern – Quinn was 15-1 until he met Jason High at Strikeforce Challengers in Kent, WA in June. Jason controlled the fight en route to a unanimous decision over the former King of the Cage champion. Had Quinn won that fight, he’d be considered for the title but after the loss, he’ll need a few wins first.
Jason High – Jason High recently debuted in Strikeforce and won the fight by controlling the action with his take-downs and wrestling. He won an easy unanimous decision and in doing so, puts himself on a short list for potential title fight candidates. He’s on a five fight winning streak and should get a big name in his next fight with the organization. A win there and he’s in the mix.
Roger Bowling – Roger Bowling is 9-1 and is on the doorstep of headlining a Challengers event with a rematch against Bobby Voelker marking his third fight with Voelker. In their first fight Roger Bowling controlled the action but the fight was sent to the cards early because on an eye gouge. The second fight was again controlled by Bowling in the first, but in the second he was caught and stopped by Bobby Voelker. He will need a win here to even step towards the title.
Bobby Voelker – See Roger Bowling.
Caros Fodor – Caros is a great young fighter who just won a Challengers card that he headlined, and that should move him from Challengers cards to Strikeforce main cards. It might be too soon to signify a title shot, but he’s on his way up the ladder.
Paul Daley – “Semtex” might not be a favorite of Dana White after being released by the UFC for sucker punching Josh Koscheck, but he was impressed as were we all with Daley’s gutsy performance against Nick Diaz. He has a huge clash with Tyron Woodley on the July 30th “Henderson vs. Fedor” card and the winner will certainly fight for the title in his next fight. Daley is a top level fighter and will pose problems for Woodley.
Summary: In a division with a lot of young talent; Paul Daley, Tyron Woodley, Tarec Saffiedine, Caros Fodor and Scott Smith could be favorites to find themselves involved in the Strikeforce Welterweight title picture. If a prediction was forced, I’d say the winner of Daley/Woodley will meet the winner of Saffiedine/Smith unless Smith wins, in which case Caros Fodor or Jason High could be primed for a title eliminator.
It will certainly be fun to see how the division shakes out in the coming months. A Strikeforce Welterweight Grand Prix would be a very stirring event for the fans and a great way to crown a new champion.
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