Shonie Carter has been forced to withdraw from his welterweight fight against Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Luke Stewart at Strikeforce: "Melendez vs. Thomson" at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on June 27, according to Sherdog.com.
"Mr. International" was apparently still willing to take the fight after shattering one of his knuckles during training, but was skeptical that the California State Athletic Commission would permit him to compete with the injury.
Filling in for the flamboyant Carter will be none other than former UFC fighter Joe Riggs (27-10).
"Diesel" has quietly competed three times since losing via knockout to Diego Sanchez in the first round at Ultimate Fight Night 7 in December 2006. During those three contests Riggs has gone 2-1 with the lone loss coming in February of this year to Cory Devela at Strikeforce At The Dome.
However, that fight was stopped after Riggs was thrown by Devela and suffered an injury to his back. In fact, Riggs underwent surgery on his back prior to that fight, but was apparently still having problems.
He has since had a second surgery to repair the damage to his spinal cord and appears fit and ready to go.
Riggs' two wins during that same span have been against decent but not stellar competition. He beat Dan Chambers (13-7) with a triangle choke in the first round at a Hardcore Fighting Championships event, as well as Eugene Jackson (15-8-1) with a first round knockout during the Strikeforce show held at the Playboy Mansion last September.
Riggs has been competing at middleweight, and since he's taking this fight on short notice, Luke Stewart has agreed to fight at a catch weight of 178 pounds.
Riggs is a much bigger and more powerful fighter than Carter, and it's admirable for Stewart to accept a fight against a much different opponent than he's been training for with just a little more than a week before the show.
This is, however, a huge opportunity for Stewart to show the fans watching on HDNet that he is a real contender in the world of professional mixed martial arts. He'll surely have to apply his jiu-jitsu skills to avoid losing his second fight in a row.
It's a classic striker vs. grappler match ... and it should be a solid complement to the main event between Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez and Josh Thomson.