(Don’t worry, Scott. Jake has it on 21-day buy-back)
According to Josh Gross’ latest column for SportsIllustrated.com, Strikeforce 185-pound champ Jake Shields‘ manager and father, Jack Shields says that the promotion has yet to bother to contact them to attempt to negotiate a new contract.
"The time is ticking. We’d like to move forward as soon as possible,"the elder Shields told Gross on Monday. "I’d like to be negotiating right now."
Strikeforce reps blamed their busy event schedule for the delay, but a source told Gross that they have actually considered releasing Shields before an exclusive negotiating period expires in three weeks. Even after that period ends, the promotion still has the right to match any offer made by any other promotion, but the fact that they are pretending Shields doesn’t exist and discussing life after he leaves the organization essentially all but says they are conceding he will not be back.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker offered a nonplussed response to Gross’ inquiry about the possibility that they may release the talented welterweight who has spent the last year moonlighting as a middleweight so he could ensure he had challenging fights.
"Can I guarantee that we won’t release him? No, I can’t. It depends on how the last two or three weeks of negotiation go. I won’t be able to answer until negotiations are over. Is it a possibility? It’s a possibility. If we’re not going to be in the Jake Shields business, let’s just move on," Coker said. "That’s how I feel. This is a business. Jake has a career and a life and it’s not fair to him. But Jake is a guy we’ve appreciated having him as part of the family."
Shields, who holds a record of 25-4-1 and hasn’t lost since 2005, has one fight remaining on his current deal with the California-based organization, but as it runs out this summer and he just fought Dan Henderson April 17, the contract will expire before he has the opportunity to fulfill the agreement, making him a free agent in June.
His father says that they are open to negotiating with Strikeforce, but he also says that considering how far his son, who was also the EliteXC welterweight champion has come in his 11 years in the sport, they will be looking for a deal that is in sync financially with what other fighters of his calibre and experience have signed.
"Jake has worked really hard for 11 years. When he got in the sport, there wasn’t any money," Jake’s father explained. "One time he fought in a tent, another time he fought in a barn. He did it for the love of the sport, but he’s worked really hard at it and I’d like to see him do well [financially]."
Sure, Shields has stated that he will likely test the open market before deciding whether or not to re-sign with Strikeforce and UFC president Dana White seems hellbent on bringing the talented welterweight in to shake up his 170-pound class, but for Strikeforce to just throw up their collective hands and give up on one of its best fighters seems a bit puzzling.
That would be like having a brawl that occurred at one of your events broadcast on network television and not calling the network back to discuss the incident or whether or not they want to broadcast another one of your shows.