A scheduled welterweight contest between the first and last Elite XC 170-pound champion, Jake Shields (22-4-1), and UFC veteran Joe "Diesel" Riggs (29-10) at Strikeforce: "Shamrock vs. Diaz" on April 11 has been put "on hold," according to Strikeforce officials.
It appears the San Jose-based promotion has other plans for its newly acquired ex-champ, matching him up against the last man to hold the Elite XC middleweight crown, "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler (16-4), in a super fight that will be contested at a catchweight of 182 pounds.
The Shields vs. Lawler showdown is expected to headline the organization's second event of 2009, which is tentatively scheduled to take place in the Seattle, Washington, area in May and air live on Showtime.
Both competitors have been out of action since their former employer Elite XC went out of business last November. Shields defeated talented British striker Paul "Semtex" Daley on the last ever event for the promotion, which aired live on CBS from Sunrise, Fla., last October.
The win was the first title defense for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. He captured the vacant title with a first round submission win over the normally very difficult to beat Nick "The Goat" Thompson a little more than two months earlier on the July 26 Elite XC: "Unfinished Business" card, which aired live on CBS as well.
For Lawler it's been a little longer since he last saw action. He was last seen finishing off Scott "Hands of Steel" Smith in the second round of their rematch on the "Unfinished Business" card. The two engaged in one of the best fights in the short history of the organization in their first encounter in May, but the fight was ruled a no contest because of an inadvertent eye poke, which led to the rematch.
The win over Smith was the fifth in a row for "Ruthless" sans the dreaded no contest ... and he wasn't fighting any bums either. That list included Frank Trigg, Joey Villasenor and Ninja Rua. Not to mention earlier career victories over Niko Vitale (twice), Chris Lytle and others.
This is a great match-up for Strikeforce's second event in the post Elite XC buyout/Showtime deal era.
Shields has expressed interest in the past about fighting in the 185-pound division. He's always been a big welterweight and shouldn't have a problem moving up to face Lawler -- a former welterweight himself.
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato "Babalu" Sobral and ex-Elite XC 205-pound kingpin Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante have also been rumored for this card in separate matches. Stay tuned to MMAmania.com for more on the developing fight card.