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State of the Strikeforce Light Heavyweights

Strikeforce's light heavyweight title has been held by three different fighters this year, and two more fighters will vie for the right to fight for the belt in the main event of the promotion's December 4 show. Although the Strikeforce light heavyweight division doesn't have the depth of the UFC, it does have several good fighters and the potential for a bunch of exciting fights over the next year.

So can Strikeforce make those fights happen? If they can, which fights should they book first? And who will be the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion in a year's time? We answer those questions in our state of the Strikeforce light heavyweight division, below.

The Champion
: Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante

Fight that will happen:
Dan Henderson vs. Babalu Sobral, December 4: The main event of Strikeforce's last fight card of 2010 is a good one, just not quite as big a fight as Strikeforce would have hoped for when Henderson first signed with the promotion a year ago. If Henderson beats Babalu he'll be well on his way to fighting for the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt -- which is what Strikeforce should have had him do from the outset.

Fights that should happen:
Feijao vs. the Henderson-Babalu winner: Assuming the Henderson-Babalu winner makes it out of that fight healthy, they should get him in the cage with Feijao quickly. That's the kind of fight that can build momentum for the light heavyweight division.

Roger Gracie vs. Mike Kyle: Strikeforce really doesn't know what to do with Kyle. First he knocked out Feijao and the fight wasn't even included in the Showtime broadcast. Then Kyle was thrown into a bout with a guy he had almost no chance of beating, Fabricio Werdum. (The result was predictable, Kyle tapped in 84 seconds.) Then Kyle fought outside Strikeforce four times before coming back and beating Ron Humphrey, and most recently Kyle fought outside Strikeforce again, winning a bout in Australia. Now it's time for Strikeforce to finally put together the long-discussed fight between Kyle and Gracie, which would tell us a lot about where both of them stand.

Others in the mix:
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal had a disappointing fight in his loss to Feijao, and now he's recovering from knee surgery and likely out for several more months. He's got a big personality and great talent, and Strikeforce needs him to get healthy and get back in the cage.

Gegard Mousasi's 2010 has been a major disappointment, but he's still an important part of the Strikeforce light heavyweight division. At the start of the year Mousasi was the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and he was talking about fighting several times this year against world-class competition. Instead, he was dominated by King Mo in his only fight in the United States, then went to Japan to beat a couple overmatched opponents, Jake O'Brien and Tatsuya Mizuno. He needs to fight someone in between the level of King Mo and the level of O'Brien and Mizuno, so Strikeforce is going to have to be smart about its matchmaking to find him the right opponent.

Potential breakout fighter:
Ovince St. Preux, a former Tennessee football player who's still learning the finer points of MMA, looked good in beating Antwain Britt on the most recent Challengers show. He's ready to step up in quality of competition, and he could have a big 2011.

Predicted Strikeforce light heavyweight champion at end of 2011: Rafael Cavalcante

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