In yesterday’s interview with Renato “Babalu” Sobral we wrote, “Right now, the only thing that’s certain is that Sobral will be fighting Bobby Southworth on September 20th for Strikeforce’s light-heavyweight championship.” But in this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, can anything be certain? Not so much, apparently. MMA Junkie is reporting that Southworth has dropped out of “Strikeforce at the Mansion II” due to an undisclosed injury. Sobral will instead face Anthony Ruiz (21-11), who previously defeated Southworth via cut stoppage in a non-title fight last November, then lost a decision to Southworth in June when the belt was actually on the line. A month later, Ruiz fought in the undercard of EliteXC: Unfinished Business, where he defeated Jeremy Freitag for the third time in his career.
Sadly for Babalu, this means that his next fight won’t be for a belt after all. But as with the first meeting between Southworth and Ruiz, Strikeforce doesn’t even guarantee title fights to their reigning champions. In fact, Josh Thomson — who earned Strikeforce’s lightweight title with his five-round pwnage of Gilbert Melendez in June — was recently booked for a non-title fight at the September 20th Playboy Mansion show. He’ll be facing Ashe Bowman, a 6-4 Lion’s Den product who has absolutely no business being in the cage with someone on Thomson’s level. Bowman is coming off a three-fight win-streak, but those three opponents sported a combined record of 0-2 at the time he faced them.
Honestly, it’s one of the most bizarre matchups in recent memory. And it emphasizes the ridiculous nature of Strikeforce’s non-title matches. They’re denying Bowman a title shot to prevent the possibility of a total scrub wearing the belt; so why exactly are they throwing a total scrub at their champion in the first place? If Strikeforce has no other credible lightweights to vie for the championship (a sad state of affairs in itself), can’t they let Thomson take fights elsewhere until they find somebody? It’s a waste of The Punk’s time, and it’ll almost certainly be a lopsided loss for a young fighter who should still be woodshedding in regional shows.