Less than a month from the event, Shark Fights 21 has undergone a dramatic headlining shift. Over the weekend, heavyweight champion Darrell Schoonover withdrew from a scheduled title defense against promotional newcomer Bobby Lashley (6-1) due to a shoulder injury. UFC veteran Tim Hague (13-5) has now been tapped as a replacement. According to Shark Fights officials a belt will remain up for grabs, however it has yet to be determined if that represents an interim title.
By all indications, the entry of Hague marks a considerable step-up in competition for the largely untested Lashley. Known as "The Thrashing Machine", Hague holds notable wins over UFC heavyweight Pat Barry, as well as Miodrag Petkovic (x2) and Zak Jensen. After being cut from the promotion earlier this year following a loss to Matt Mitrione, the 28-year-old rebounded with a 74-second submission victory over Vince Lucero inside his native Canada.
Meanwhile, Lashley returns to the cage for the second time in 2011, following a unanimous decision victory over John Ott at Titan FC 17. The former Strikeforce prospect and WWE wrestler signed a three-fight deal in the aftermath of the win to the delight of Shark Fights CEO Bud Brustman. "It's going to be big for us," Brustman said. "When you're a little organization you need to make some noise, and Bobby is the perfect one to make some noise. There is nobody better than him right now that's out there."
Shark Fights 21 will be held on November 11th at the Fair Park Coliseum in Lubbock, Texas. FUEL TV is scheduled to air a tape-delay broadcast on December 23rd.