Jake Shields file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes.
Jake Shields racked up more experience and more exposure than about any acquisition in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, casting a heightened intrigue over the announcement this week of his debut fight at UFC 121 on Oct. 23 in Anaheim, Calif.
Positioned in recent years as one of the top fighters not in the UFC as a highlighted star in EliteXC and Strikeforce, the 31-year-old captured and never lost titles in both companies, and many of his key fights took place before millions of viewers on network television. Perhaps no other fighter has been able to so effectively swing such exposure prior to his first UFC run.
Shields announced this week he will campaign at 170 pounds, contrasting initial statements from his father and manager Jack Shields that he was eyeing a middleweight run. Shields, who fought at middleweight earlier in his career, made the weight jump over the past year and a half in pursuit of higher-profile fights. He will cut down on weight lifting and calorie intake to drop back to 170, SI.com reported.
The UFC was said to edge the Cesar Gracie pupil toward welterweight, where there will be a dearth of fresh challengers for Georges St. Pierre if GSP were to defeat Josh Koscheck in December. The announcement of Shields’ signing was coupled with reports that he will fight Martin Kampmann at UFC 121 on Oct. 23. Kampmann was under consideration to face Dan Hardy in the main event of UFC 120 on Oct. 16 in London, a slot that ultimately went to Carlos Condit. Shields told MMAWeekly.com that he could see the winner of his fight against Kampmann being in line for a title shot. Shields said Kampmann has been on his radar since the Dane’s win over Paulo Thiago at UFC 115.
Shields was courted by the UFC in 2008 after EliteXC folded, and he leveraged that into a lucrative deal with Strikeforce. He told SI.com that at this point of his career, “I knew I had to be in the UFC, regardless of money.” Jack Shields, a former music festival promoter, was able to carve out of his son’s EliteXC contract, which Strikeforce purchased, a “champion’s clause” that would had made Shields beholden to Strikeforce so long as he held one of the company’s title belts. Though Strikeforce had the contractual right to match any offer Shields received, the San Jose-based promotion was reportedly not interested in a protracted bidding war for him.
Few fighters have wracked up as impressive a resume as Shields prior to stepping foot into a UFC cage. His last loss was in December 2004. Since then he’s wracked up 14 straight wins, including victories over Octagon veterans Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit, Jason Miller, Paul Daley, Nick Thompson, Robbie Lawler and, most recently, Dan Henderson. His win over Daley in October 2008 was viewed by 5.3 million on CBS, while his win over Miller in November 2008 pulled 4.38 million viewers on the network.
Ratings were disappointing, though, for his first CBS headline bout, an impressive romp over Henderson in April. The win nudged Shields into Sherdog.com’s Top 10 Pound-for-Pound rankings.