One of the nagging questions for MMA fans over the past sixteen months has been “When will Cung Le defend his middleweight title?” The answer to that question seems to be, “Not any time soon.” It is now being reported that former EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields will be challenging for an interim belt at middleweight, while the promotion waits on Le to return to fighting. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker recently broke this news to MMAFanhouse at the press conference for the promotions upcoming Gina Carano vs. Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos event.
Shields’ last outing came in June at a catch-weight of 182 pounds, against former EliteXC middleweight champ Robbie Lawler. Shields defeated the heavy handed Lawler via guillotine early in the first round of the fight. Prior to that Shields had been on a eight month layoff since defeating Paul Daley in his final defense of his EliteXC welterweight belt, before the promotion ended operations.
Current champion, Le has yet to defend the title he won in March of 2008 from Frank Shamrock. He has instead focused on a movie career which has included work in at least six films. There still is no word yet on a time frame for Le’s return to the cage.
There is also no word yet on a potential opponent, or date for Shields’ interim title challenge, which would likely take place in September or October. There had previously been rumors of a match up between Shields and either Matt Lindland or Vitor Belfort in August, but neither came to fruition.
Pictured: Jake Shields