For the record, I will be backing Tim Kennedy in his bout against Melvin Manhoef at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson this Saturday, and if you've seen Kennedy in action, you probably know why.
The man is one of the most well-rounded and well-conditioned athletes in Mixed Martial Arts, let alone the Middleweight division of Strikeforce, and the fact that Kennedy is a "jack of all trades, master of none" type of fighter supports the possibility of Kennedy dropping Manhoef and either grounding-and-pounding his way back into the Middleweight title mix or by catching Manhoef in a submissionand making him tap.
However, I will leave the possibility open for Kennedy to make some sort of error and wind up looking up at the lights due to a hook that lands flush on his chin.
So suppose Manhoef does get past Kennedy, then what?
Could he have a rematch with Robbie Lawler to settle the score, or even a fight with Matt Lindland (who may not stay out for much longer)? Could he move up to Light Heavyweight and take on some of the upper echelon of (what's left of) the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight division?
He could do that, or he could wait for the one man who wants his crack at Jacare Souza's belt just as much as Kennedy or Manhoef want theirs, but what are the odds that Jason "Mayhem" Miller--the one man that Jacare said he had no interest in facing again--stands between Manhoef and a shot at Jacare?
If negotiations between Mayhem and Nick Diaz fall through once again this year, perhaps the odds are pretty high that Manhoef does face Miller in a battle of two of the most entertaining staples of overseas MMA.
Let's face it: Benji Radach is up at 205, Evangelista Santos just came off of a win over Marius Zaromskis and his loss to Diaz in San Jose this past January, and as much as Mayhem wants otherwise, Diaz is staying at 170 regardless of whether he beats Paul Daley next month or not.
All you really have is Luke Rockhold, who was rumored to face both Kennedy and Manhoef at this event, along with Scott Smith and of course Robbie Lawler--who has a loss to Mayhem and a win over Manhoef on his record.
In essence, there's not much of a road to travel for a Middleweight who wants their shot at the Strikeofrce Middleweight belt, and this is as much of the reason why we haven't seen Mayhem fight in the States lately as is the tried-and-failed negotiations with Diaz.
All the more reason to think that sometime soon, Mayhem will realize that he can't bank on DREAM offering him fights at every turn--especially when it seems inevitable for DREAM to crumble at the drop of a hat.
Sooner or later, he's going to remember that Jacare said "no more" when asked to face him again, and when he does, the fight with Diaz will come second to his quest to even the score with Jacare.
Mayhem likely won't get a fight, and if he does, it'll be against someone either on the level of Tim Stout or close to the level of Rockhold, but either way, a win over Kennedy will put Manhoef in a position where all he has to do is score another big win in order to get a crack at Jacare's belt.
If Manhoef puts himself in that situation with a win over Kennedy on Saturday, it'll be Miller that Manhoef will have to go through in order to get his crack at the champ.