Backstage At Strikeforce: News And Notes

Gyms such as American Top Team, American Kickboxing Academy, Greg Jackson’s, and Xtreme Couture are known as high caliber MMA academies, but there may be another camp that has finally earned its stripes. The Cesar Gracie camp, working under the supervision of Cesar and Tareq Azim is led by BJJ aces Jake Shields (Strikeforce middleweight champion) and Nick Diaz (Strikeforce welterweight contender), along with Gilbert Melendez (Strikeforce lightweight champion) and UFC lightweight Nate Diaz.

“We’re up there,” Nate said. Teammate and mentor Shields also noted, “It’s looking up for everyone,” also adding “it’s the beginning.”

A possible third match with Thomson possibly looms in Melendez’ future, along with a possible match with Japanese superstar Shinya Aoki. Shields will likely fight former Pride middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson, a formidable opponent who is a serious threat to knockout or TKO Shields.

Older brother Nick Diaz will fight next month against Marius Zaromskis, recent DREAM welterweight GP semi- and finals champion. Younger brother Nate Diaz also will have his hands full with possible No. 1 UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard next month.

If there is one thing we need to know about Frank Shamrock, it’s that he isn’t fond of current Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields. Something almost out a soap opera, the two fighters have continued a lengthy war of words again on Saturday night in San Jose.

Shamrock, who also serves as the color commentator for Strikeforce, continued to voice his displeasure of Shields during a quick chat with Heavy.com prior to the main card last night.

“I don’t like him, that’s all I have to say,” Heavy.com was told. “I don’t want it” because he is boring, though Shamrock didn’t rule out the opportunity to punch Shields in the face a few times in a possible fight.

Then again, Shields, who currently is champion, may have to deal with Dan Henderson, a high-profile Strikeforce signing that is expected to get the first shot. If Henderson beats Shields — which many MMA fans and journalists are expecting — then perhaps Shamrock would be the perfect bounce back fight for Shields.

When asked about a fight with Shamrock, Shields told Heavy.com that the right “hasn’t been earned,” as Shields is currently champion. If the two did end up meeting inside the cage, Shields sees this fight ending in one way: “(I) win by submission.”

Pride and UFC veteran Dan Henderson, who held both the PRIDE middleweight and light heavy weight championship titles, was formally announced as a Strikeforce fighter during last night’s Strikeforce: Evolution event at the H.P. Pavilion.

Henderson is confirmed to fight for the organization in April, on the same card as No. 1 heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, and it’s likely he’ll meet Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields.

“Yeah, it’ll be a good fight,” Henderson noted after stepping out of the post-fight press conference. “(I) respect Shields and his game, but I want to win.”

“He’s definitely a guy I’m interested in fighting,” Shields told Heavy.com during the post-fight press conference. “(I’ll) put him on his back and try to submit him,” was Shields’ answer when asked how the match will play out.

Henderson, known for his solid wrestling, heavy hands and iron chin, will pose serious problems for Shields. Not only does Henderson have stellar takedown defense, he’s much larger than Shields, which should be difficult for Shields to handle. If he beats Shields, a possible Strikeforce light heavyweight match with Gegard Mousasi or heavyweight fight against Fedor Emelianenko also looms in the future. However, Henderson said he’s “taking it one step at a time” before trying to jump the gun on Shields.

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