On April 9th, Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (who was ranked at # 7 at the time in the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings) faced off with the number 10 guy on that list, Paul Daley. Diaz defeated Daley by TKO in one of the most thrilling bouts of the year, and Strikeforce finally had some momentum going for the division again.
Fast-forward nearly four months. Unranked fighters Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine are the frontrunners for a shot at the vacant title after picking up wins in their respective fights last night at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Coker has stated in the recent past that there could be one other guy in the mix for that title shot, a man who hasn't even fought in the Strikeforce welterweight division - Pride veteran Kazuo Misaki. The depth of this division might be at an all-time low for Strikeforce, which is a troubling sign.
Sure, Woodley is likely to be ranked next month after his win over the current number 12 guy in Daley, which is a very good win. But these same two men (Woodley and Tarec) have already fought each other, and it was less than seven months ago on a Challengers card. Now this same fight (which Woodley won by unanimous decision in a less-than-thrilling affair) is going to likely be a co-main event fight for a title? That will be tough for a lot of fans to sink their teeth into.
Many people will point to this as another sign of the demise of Strikeforce. The heavyweight champion just got cut. The light heavyweight champion isn't currently under contract. The middleweight champion is fighting a guy that hasn't fought in close to 18 months. I'm not one of those people that believes Strikeforce is going to be shut down in early 2012. I believe it will live on, still airing on Showtime, in some form. But when your welterweight division roster has names like Woodley, Saffiedine, Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, Daley, and Misaki on top, it's tough to be optimistic.