A little over a month from now, Strikeforce will look to hold its next big event. On July 30 Strikeforce is scheduled to present “Fedor vs. Henderson”, featuring the legendary Fedor Emelianenko taking on current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson in a Heavyweight bout. One of the most-anticipated encounters outside that main event was a match-up between Paul Daley and Evangelista Santos, but recently it’s been confirmed that that’s a fight that will no longer be happening. Here are all the details.
We head to MMA Fighting for the official word. According to their report, an injury has forced “Cyborg” Santos to pull out of his upcoming fight with the British knockout artist. It is currently unknown who will replace Daley, it’s not even known whether or not Daley will still be competing on the card.
Ironically, both men have one big thing in common: they both lost to Nick Diaz in supremely humbling fashion in their most-recent fights. Heading into his showdown with Diaz, Santos held a barely-positive record of 18-13 and was soundly trounced by Diaz before succumbing to a second-round armbar. Many felt that Strikeforce was grasping at straws when putting someone like Santos, a longtime journeyman, into such a pivotal match-up.
Diaz’s next opponent, Paul Daley, was much more of a threat to Diaz’s reign. In perhaps the most exciting single-round fight of the last several years, Daley and Diaz fought an all-out war that saw both men dazed and hurt several times. After coming back from the razor’s edge and avoiding the first real KO loss of his career, Diaz ended the fight in the first round, stopping Daley due to strikes and giving “Semtex” the first real TKO loss of his career.
I definitely would’ve liked to see this fight, but if one of these fighters had to get injured, I’m glad it’s Santos. I know that sounds pretty insensitive, but I can’t help the way I feel. I think Paul Daley is a great addition to Strikeforce’s roster and gives them a badly-needed injection of talent. I think Daley will be a one-dimensional striker for the rest of his life, but he’s so entertaining and usually so dominant in that one dimension that I just can’t hold it against him. If he does decide to take a new opponent for “Fedor vs. Henderson”, I’ll certainly enjoy watching him fight.
Meanwhile, Evangelista Santos has never struck me as anything more than an up-and-down journeyman whose performances vary wildly based on the quality of the competition he’s facing. Much like I consider Valentijn Overeem “the other Overeem”, I consider Evangelista Santos “the other Cyborg”.
Of course, the removal of Santos makes me wonder who’s ready and deserving of a shot against Daley. But that just makes me think of an even bigger question that needs to be answered: what’s left for Paul Daley in Strikeforce? I’ll go one step further: what’s left for any Welterweight in Strikeforce?
When will Strikeforce crown a new Welterweight Champion now that Nick Diaz has vacated the belt and signed with the UFC? And let’s be honest: that new champion is going to have a long, hard road ahead of him if he wants to emerge out of the shadow of Diaz. Nick Diaz was one of Strikeforce’s biggest stars and one of its top draws both in television ratings and live attendance/gate receipts. He was mathematically, figuratively, and literally the most-dominant champion in Strikeforce history. Whoever wins the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship now that it’s vacated… I’ll always wonder “could he have beaten Nick?”
And I have a sinking feeling that I’m going to answer “no” to that question, time and time again. So, really, where does the Strikeforce welterweight division go from here?