Former UFC welterweight contender Joe Riggs (29-10) will get his chance to compete in front of a Showtime audience against fellow Zuffa castaway Phil Baroni (13-10) on the upcoming Strikeforce card scheduled for June 6 in St. Louis, Missouri.
"Diesel" was originally penciled in to face Jake Shields during the promotion's debut on the premium cable network on April 11 in San Jose, but the Strikeforce match makers decided to scrap the bout in order to free Shields up for a superfight with Robbie Lawler in the main event of their June 6 card.
Riggs wasn't too pleased with the decision either, because he felt like he had a decent shot at handing the former EliteXC champion his first loss in nearly four and a half years. Who knows, perhaps a win in St. Louis will move the veteran fighter closer to a match with his desired opponent, but for now he'll have to settle with taking out his frustration on Baroni instead.
And that will certainly be a lot easier said than done.
The "New York Bad Ass" hit a bit of a dry spell, losing five of seven bouts from September of 2005 through May of 2008, but he bounced back to close out 2008 with three straight wins over Scott Jansen (KO), Ron Verdadero (TKO), and Olaf Alfonso (decision) after dropping down to compete as a welterweight in the 170 pound division.
He's kicked up his training a few notches as well and has been working with guys like Jake Shields, Josh Thomson and others in preparation for Riggs or anyone else in the Strikeforce welterweight division. He knows this is a big opportunity to prove to the Showtime fans that he can still fight at a high level and win on the big stage.
Strikeforce has never crowned a 170-pound champion, and both of these guys are certainly right there in the mix as far as possible future contenders for that vacancy. Actually, it might not be unrealistic to think that the winner could find himself in the Strikeforce cage competing for the gold before the end of 2009.
The June 6 event is expected to be headlined by former EliteXC middleweight champion "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler taking on former EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields in a middleweight contest in the featured main event from St. Louis.
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.
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