Bobby Lashley's Strikeforce Contract Has Expired

Bobby Lashley is essentially a "Restricted Free-Agent" now that his Strikeforce contract has expired.

According to Dave Meltzer on f4wonline.com, Bobby Lashley's contract has run out, but he still has an exclusive negotiating period with Strikeforce before he can start talking to other MMA organizations that are interested in his services:

Bobby Lashley’s contract has expired. Right now he’s in the exclusive negotiating period, meaning he can’t talk to anyone else in MMA, although his Strikeforce deal does allow him to do pro wrestling and he always expressed interest in going back. After the exclusive period ends, he can talk with other groups but Strikeforce would have the option to match any offers, although my understanding is Strikeforce hasn’t expressed real interest in him after his loss to Chad Griggs. There has been no talk about Batista coming in of late and that fight only makes sense on CBS or PPV because of Batista’s asking price. This is hardly the best time for him to be a free agent when his stock would be at a low point coming off his loss.

Lashley, who has a compiled a record of (5-1) in his young MMA career , is coming off his first career defeat against Chad Griggs on Strikeforce: Houston -- a loss where he blames on being sick and dehydrated a few days before the fight. There is no question that he can still draw in more viewers than the any other heavyweight on his skill level, but that first defeat really put a dent on Lashley's image, and it limits his options on Strikeforce. Jonathan Snowden talked about it this past week:

Griggs wants no part of Lashley in a rematch. After all, if he loses he's diminished his own crowning achievement. A quick loss in a return bout would lend a lot of credence to Lashley's illness claims. That leaves Lashley a fighter with no fight. 

Strikeforce President Scott Coker is said to be considering moving Lashley back to the Strikeforce Challenger's cards. Is it possible that Bobby Lashley, once so vehemently criticized for the caliber of his competition, may actually need to take a step back before he can take a step forward?

If there aren't that much appealing options available for him in Strikeforce, and if both accounts mentioned are accurate, it might be wise for Lashley to weigh other options before re-signing with the promotion. I'm not sure if entering the UFC would be the right move, but match ups against Bellator's stable of heavyweight prospects such as Neil Grove and Cole Konrad could be a good fit for him at this point in his career.

UPDATE: Brent Brookhouse opines over at SBNation.com:

Hearing that Strikeforce is generally uninterested in Lashley is probably bad news for Bobby. Lashley is probably going to have to drop his asking price by a significant amount to have any hope of ever performing on a big stage again. From what has been reported about Lashley over the past year I doubt that his commitment to MMA runs deep enough that he's going to be willing to hit the low paying regional scene to try to build his way back to a second shot.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it is starting to sound like this may be the end of Bobby Lashley's MMA career.

As much as I would like to see him try to take on the heavyweights on other promotions, it might be too much to ask for Lashley to lower his asking price -- especially if a WWE contract is also on the table.

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