Strikeforce Notebook: Joe Riggs Is A Little Upset This Week

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Strikeforce Notebook: Joe Riggs Is A Little Upset This Week
Joe Riggs returns to action Friday after an eight-month layoff.

In our overloaded content world where we are force-fed opinions from every big name, little name and everything in between, there are still interviews that stand out and make me take notice -- even in MMA.

Allow me to re-introduce you to Joe "Diesel" Riggs, who has taken some notes from Chael Sonnen in discussing this Friday's main event at Strikeforce Challengers in Phoenix, AZ. 

The 27-year-old Riggs (32-12-0-1) joined Ariel Helwani's MMAFighting.com show Monday and revealed a lot about his current situation. I'd highly recommend listening in full, but here's a summary:

- He has no idea why he hasn't fought in eight months, saying, "They like to have me wait." He added following his fight with Phil Baroni, the same thing happened.

- He said Strikeforce "dangled" fights during this break, but they kept him up in the air about when he could expect to fight, limiting his opportunities to compete elsewhere. The Phoenix show in particular was on again, off again for four months and that the whole process to get into action again was "torture."

- He's not sure why this fight against Louis Taylor is at a catchweight when he has been competing at 170.

- Because it's a Challengers show, his pay was cut 55 percent from his contract number and that his bonus is based on attendance (he lives in Phoenix). This was supposed to be his final fight on his deal, but because the pay is less than normal, he had to sign an amendment. He had "no choice."

- He admitted Strikeforce gets mad at him for "whining."

Not exactly what you want to hear from your main eventer to kick off fight week. Luckily for them, he did it again Tuesday on Mauro Ranallo's The Fight Show.

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker joined Helwani shortly after Riggs and said that they felt Riggs was in the process of rebuilding his career which is why the Challengers event made sense.

"Joe complaining doesn't surprise me at all," Coker said.

While fighters openly grumbling isn't new, employees taking swipes at Strikeforce is becoming old hat for the country's second largest MMA promotion and is something they don't need.

Two recent cases come to mind. 135-pound Women's Champion Sarah Kaufman wasn't thrilled about fighting on a Challengers event and told people about it. And then, there was the Jake Shields situation, punctuated by Shields (still the Middleweight Champion at the time, mind you) appearing arm-in-arm with UFC President Dana White several times. Does that sound like someone that wants to negotiate?

The problem is that Strikeforce can't discipline Riggs the week leading up to the event and even if they did, what's the penalty? A release from his contract? Another eight months on the shelf? Therein lies the major problem.

For whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be the respect level and fear of upper management for some of the fighters. Perhaps part of that is earned as lack of advance pre-event buildup with fully announced cards can be frustrating. Maybe it's the pay or perhaps it's just name-value fighters feeling slighted by being placed on a Challengers event.

But to complain publicly in such fashion hurts everyone. It makes Strikeforce look weak by not taking a stronger stand on these things and raises questions about why these fighters feel the need to voice themselves in this manner. Do they feel their voices are not being heard internally? You'd have to ask them, I guess.

It also distracts away from the real story: Their next fight. This column is focusing on an issue, rather than a fight. Then again, to be completely honest, I've never heard of Louis Taylor, so maybe this is just as good.

In order for Strikeforce to take it to that mythical "next level." eliminating the chatter and creating a better communication channel internally would be a big step toward that. There are enough people content with poking holes in Strikeforce and the employees don't need to be part of that.

UFC middleweight Kendall Grove took jabs at Spike TV and got demoted to a non-televised bout on UFC 116, in addition to publicly apologizing before and after the event. That's a good punishment system to achieve to get at.

Some other tidbits from the Coker conversation with Helwani:

The Heavyweight Shuffle

He gave the update on the status of his top heavyweights like Fabricio Werdum (not available until early-2011), Heavyweight Champ Alistair Overeem (hopefully October, Giant Silva looks to be the favorite) and Fedor Emelianenko (ongoing dialogue with M-1, nothing to announce yet).

Overeem/Silva does nothing for me and more importantly, who would that leave for Fedor to fight this fall? The Werdum injury couldn't have come at a worse time as he was a natural opponent for both men. Tough break all the way around.

Nick Diaz to compete in October

Coker said that Nick Diaz will fight again in October, but he couldn't confirm whether Jason "Mayhem" Miller was going to be the opponent. Coker said Diaz keeping his weight up is an issue as he's getting into triathlon season. They should have more news within a week.

By the way, Diaz is the Welterweight Champion. He won the title in January and has yet to defend it.

The return of Gina Carano?

He expects Women's 145-pound champion Cris Cyborg to be back in action by the end of the year or January. Former rival Gina Carano is still doing reshoots for a movie, but he hopes to have a conversation with her over the next two months.

Quick hits

- A return to CBS in October could be possible and Coker has a ongoing dialogue with CBS personnel.

- On the possibility of signing former WWE star Batista? "Absolutely... why not?" He's been training at Cesar Gracie's and if signed, they would monitor him as he progressed. There is still nothing signed, but both sides have kept in communication.

On whether he would fight current Strikeforce heavyweight and former WWE'er Bobby Lashley at some point? "Sure... why not?" He added they would let Batista get to a point where it would be a competitive fight and it wouldn't necessarily be Lashley's next opponent should he win later this month.

- Paul Daley has not been signed, but they have their eyes on him.

- They expect to announce a one-night middleweight tournament next week, but they haven't finalized whether it will be a four or eight-man field. Benji Radach recently called Coker and said he's ready to return for the tourney and Melvin Manhoef has shown interest as well.

Josh Nason is a freelance MMA journalist that has contributed to FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo Magazine and Bleacher Report, appearing regularly on The Fight Show with Mauro Ranallo and Rubber Guard Radio. Follow him on Twitter, will ya?

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