Lashley must get by Griggs to land high-profile fight

Scott Coker certainly wants to see Chad Griggs engage in a good fight against Bobby Lashley. But Coker must be thinking, "don't get too froggy Mr. Griggs." After all, he's taken Lashley, a big free-agent signee back in early 2009, along a slow path with the destination hopefully being some mega-money fights for the former pro wrestling star. The payoff for Strikeforce could come in the form of Lashley against another former WWE star Dave Batista or one of the big boys on top of the promotion's heavyweight division.

The tough part for Lashley is avoiding looking ahead of the little known Griggs.

"The hardest thing about him (Griggs) is I don't know much about the guy at all," said Lashley. "It's another opponent. He has a very impressive record. It's going to pose a good challenge for me coming back from the long break."

Lashley (5-0) last fought in January making quick work of Wes Sims. Some MMA fans and bloggers have been frustrated by the slow path Lashley's taken. Coker and Lashley seem happy with where he's at. From the Las Vegas Sun:

"I always said to myself, 'what is Bobby going to look like in 18 months?'" Coker said. "With his athletic ability and wrestling, the sky is the limit. "One guy he has to get through is Chad. That's got to be the first thing that's on the top of his mind. As you all know, (Strikeforce) has a few of the top heavyweights in the world, and Bobby will fit right in there."

And now Lashley is talking about moving into Strikeforce's top five. He's gotten a jolt of confidence from working with UFC title contender Cain Velasquez and fellow Strikeforce heavyweight prospect at the well-regarded American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose.

"Cain is probably the best heavyweight there is right now," Lashley said. "You've got to be ready training with him. The guy has got great conditioning and it's been good mixing it up with him and [...] Cormier.

"We've had some great practice sessions, and I know my conditioning is not going to be a factor."

That's good to hear. Because much like another thickly muscled fighter Shane Carwin, there have been questions about Lashley's cardio if fights go into the second and third rounds. Lashley has only been to the second round one time in five fights.

What's next? Should Strikeforce push a Lashley-Batista promotion just to cash in? Or at age 34, should Lashley be more concerned with furthering his legitimate MMA career?