Strikeforce’s May 15th event in St. Louis — which is slated to feature the heavyweight clashes between Alistair Overeem vs. Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski vs. Antonio Silva — picked up two more notable matchups this week. First off, BJJ prodigy Roger Gracie (2-0) is set to face off against explosive UFC/PRIDE veteran Kevin Randleman (17-14). Gracie’s grappling credentials include eight titles at the Mundials and sweeps of the 98kg and Absolute divisions at the 2005 ADCCs; his last MMA fight was two years ago, when he choked out Yuki Kondo at Sengoku 2. Randleman has suffered decision losses in his last two bouts against Mike Whitehead and Stanislav Nedkov, and has dropped nine of his last 12.
Meanwhile in the lightweight division, fast-rising prospect Lyle "Fancy Pants" Beerbohm (13-0, 12 wins by stoppage) will get his next test against former top 10 lightweight Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro. After a long period of injury-related inactivity, Ribeiro returned to MMA competition last year in DREAM, defeating Katsuhiko Nagata by TKO, but then losing a decision to Shinya Aoki. Beerbohm’s last two Strikeforce appearances saw him choke out Duane "Bang" Ludwig and score a doctor’s-stoppage TKO over Rafaello Oliveira.
Even if Shields gets smashed by Hendo, he would still have a great deal of value to the UFC as a welterweight contender. And if he beats Henderson? There aren’t any more legitimate middleweight challenges in Strikeforce, and Jake’s homeboy Nick Diaz holds the welterweight belt, so moving back down isn’t an option. You can’t blame the guy for wanting to move on.