Jake Shields is thirty-three years old. He’s had a thirteen year career in Mixed Martial Arts. Time is running out.
While winning the Elite XC Welterweight and Strikeforce Middleweight Championships may be somewhat satisfactory for Jake Shields, the ultimate goal is to have UFC gold wrapped around his waist.
According to Dana White on Twitter yesterday, that goal is win the UFC Middleweight Championship. Rarely do you see a fighter change a weight class after a win, but Shields did just that.
After beating Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144, his next scheduled fight is against Ed Herman at UFC 150 in the middleweight division. The division where he won gold in Strikeforce. The division where he beat Dan Henderson.
Shield’s second go at in the welterweight division started when he signed with UFC. The reasoning behind it was purely from a competitive advantage. For Shields, the cut down to his former division would prove to be anything but that.
Despite winning his debut in the UFC, Shields showed signs of fatigue and just didn’t look like the same man that had wins over the likes of Paul Daley and Dan Henderson. At the time, the fatigue was chalked up to it being a weight cut Shields hadn’t made in a while, but as time progressed that proved to be incorrect.
In his fights against George St. Pierre and Yoshihiro Akiyama, the conditioning of Shields did not improve. In fact, it seemed as though Shields lost quite a bit of strength as well due to the weight cut. Those physical weaknesses is what likely served as a catalyst for Shields’ decision to move up to 185.
So how will Jake Shields fare in the UFC middleweight division?
The short answer is, it depends on Joe Silva. There are some top middleweights that match-up well against Shields like Michael Bisping (sprawl and brawl) and Vitor Belfort, but there are some match-ups that Shields could potentially win due to most of the fight playing out on the ground game such as against Chael Sonnen or Tim Boetsch.
If Shields’ ground game is like it was in the past then he could have much success against the middleweight division due the sheer volume of wrestlers and grapplers in the top of the class. If the stars were to align a fight that’d be quite fun to see would be a bout between Jake Shields and Rousimar Palhares. That bout promises to be a chess match on ground between two talented BJJ artists.
Due to the boring nature of his fights its easy to underestimate Jake Shields, but he is a legitimate threat to be a part of the middleweight title picture.
The future could be bright for the 33 year-old, but before he achieves the MMA dream of becoming a UFC Champion he must first get through Ed Herman.
The last thing Shields needs to do is look past Ed Herman. Herman is a slick grappler with surprising punching power that could put away Shields if he fights lackadaisically.
Herman’s MMA career appeared to be on the decline after suffering a knee injury in his fight against Aaron Simpson at UFC 102, but after a 2 year lay-off, Herman has returned with much success. He’s rattled off three consecutive victories over Kyle Noke, Tim Credeur, and Clifford Starks. The most impressive aspect of his wins? None of the fights made it past the second round.
Clearly Shields is a huge step up in competition for Herman who has the ability to spoil Shields’ return to the middleweight class. By no means should Herman be favored in the fight, but it is certainly a possibility.
The legacy of Jake Shields’ career in MMA is going to be shaped by the return to the division that has been dominated by Anderson Silva. A championship run or anything close to that would really set Shields apart from most MMA fighters in history, and the potential is there for Shields to have that success.
In conclusion, a tweet a from Jose Canseco.