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What Does GSP vs. Diaz Mean For Strikeforce’s Future?

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After publicly denying that the match was in the making, UFC President confirmed yesterday that a super-fight between UFC Welterweight Champion George St-Pierre and Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz would indeed be taking place. The bout is tentatively scheduled to go down October 29 at UFC 137 in Las Vegas.

With the news comes a series of new questions concerning the future of Strikeforce however, especially considering that one of the promotion’s champions is now signed to a contract with the UFC.

In speaking to MMA Fighting, Diaz’s manager and trainer Cesar Gracie revealed that the fighter had signed a “multi-fight, multi-year contract with the UFC.” Explaining that the new contract also leaves Diaz with the option to fight in Strikeforce, Gracie added that “If he’s back in Strikeforce, I would imagine that’s because he lost his next fight.”

Further discussing the announcement with USA Today, Gracie also went into the nature of the contract and how it pulled Diaz away from a rumored boxing match with former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Jeff Lacy. “It was kind of a complex contract because of the boxing, so he obviously had to be compensated for not boxing and taking this fight instead.”

Simply based on the information that’s been released at this early stage in time, it would appear that despite the clause which allows Diaz’s return to Strikeforce, that even if he loses he’s now on the hook to a different order of management. If the UFC wasn’t interested in securing the fighter for an extended duration of time they would have likely allowed him try his hand at boxing before returning to contract negotiations. Regardless of the result GSP bout however, Strikeforce’s future is taking a huge hit here by blatantly serving as a farm for the higher-tiered competition of the UFC (which really isn’t shocking to anyone, but now it’s “public”). And what’s more, what happens if Diaz is actually able to defeat GSP?

Considered by many to be the most legitimate challenger to St-Pierre’s belt in MMA right now, Diaz bears the skills and a style which will unquestionably combat GSP’s ever-conservative game plan. Winner of his last 10 fights Diaz has offered ample evidence of his abilities as a dangerous fighter during this streak, scoring wins over the likes of Frank Shamrock, KJ Noons and Paul Daley. But if he is indeed able to defeat the seemingly unbeatable French Canadian champion he will will be lending Strikeforce’s middleweight division, and in essence the entire promotion, a deathblow.

If the reigning Strikeforce Welterweight Champion captures the UFC crown chances are that he’ll have to relinquish the former promotion’s belt, in the process leaving one of MMA’s most compelling weight division’s in on of MMA’s most compelling promotions without a champion. And with a forthcoming incorporation of Strikeforce into the UFC pending anyways, such a hole in the promotion’s hierarchy could spell the first in a string of instances of the UFC cherry picking Strikeforce’s elite talent for its own purposes.

Regardless of any hypothetical fallout however, Diaz will likely give St-Pierre a hell of a fight when the UFC champion returns to Las Vegas for the first time since defeating Thiago Alves at UFC 100 in 2009. And as fight fans, with the only other compelling option being a questionable super-bout between he and current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, we really couldn’t ask for anything more.