As reported by sherdog. It's pretty hilarious, in the end; all Shields did was tank ratings and severely devalue arguably the organization's three most popular middleweights in Lawler, Mayhem and Hendo.
In terms of credibility it's a blow for Strikeforce to lose the guy who rolled their welterweight (well, EliteXC's, but Strikeforce pretty much inherited it) and middleweight divisions singlehandedly and served as one of their few headliners, but in the same breath Scott Coker's probably breathing a sigh of relief. Less people will pull the "yeah, but Shields is the rightful champion" card than will enjoy seeing a middleweight champion who doesn't wrestle people to death.
Strikeforce's matchmaking has kind of shot their plan in the foot again, though. Coker initially talked up a fight between Jacare and Lawler to determine a champ if Shields left, but Lawler losing the Babalu fight ruined that. Consequently, they've been talking a middleweight tournament instead--which in itself has issues now, because out of Strikeforce's available middleweights:
-Shamrock just retired -Lawler is coming off of a loss -Henderson is coming off of a loss to the departing champ -Lindland just lost against Jacare half a year ago -Smith just got beat by Cung Le -Cung Le doesn't want to commit to a tournament -Villasenor is coming off of a loss to Jacare -Nick Diaz is already their welterweight champ -Prospects Prangley, Amoussou and Kennedy have never been off of Showtime
...so in terms of their actual names, the only guys coming into the tournament with any momentum are Jacare and Mayhem, unless they want to import Diaz from 170 or Babalu/Mousasi from 205.
I understand that Strikeforce just plain doesn't have the exposure to do anything BUT put on spectacle cards to pop ratings, but this tournament idea seems like it will be an awful lot of fun that will then completely destroy any compelling matchups they could have in the near future of the division. Then again, it's questionable if Strikeforce will even be around this time next year, so maybe they should just go ahead and have a ball.
Either way, it's going to be funny to watch Shields in the UFC. If he actually does wrestle Anderson Silva to death, I may die laughing.
As big a question as the number is the whole sponsor issue. Hendrick is tied into contracts with their 4 main sponsors for at least 1 more year (could be more). Budweiser has a contract with JR. I'm sure Bud would prefer that JR.