When EliteXC welterweight champion Jake Shields found out that he has now joined the growing number of unemployed people in the U.S., he knew that he wouldn’t be out of work for long. His destination should be a no-brainer, for him and his future employer. The UFC currently holds eight of the world’s top ten 170-pounders, including the top four. Shields has been calling for a shot at them for the past year, and now is the time for him to step up to the plate and for the UFC to give him the opportunity.
“The UFC’s where I’ve wanted to fight for years, and also the guys ranked above me in the world are there so that’s certainly the most logical show to go to,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com.
Although Shields holds an impressive 22-4-1 record, his career has lacked the legitimacy that many of the other top ten fighters in the world possess because he has yet to face the level of competition that they have. In fact, it wasn’t until earlier this year that Shields held his first title belt.
As his impending free agency looms, there is only one place for him to go if he wants to test himself and go down as one of the world’s best to ever fight at 170 pounds, and he knows it.
“The UFC’s the most likely option,” he stated. “That’s where I’m certainly leaning. I haven’t had any talks with them yet; I have to get my contract released. That’s definitely the number one option I’m looking at.”
Shields did have the the opportunity to sign with the UFC a little over a year ago, before he signed his free agent contract with ProElite. The UFC has had the deepest talent pool in the welterweight division for quite some time, so many wondered why he chose not to challenge his skills against the world’s elite.
Perhaps it was an easier road to capturing the coveted title that he so dearly wanted. Now he has come full circle, with an opportunity to once again go to the UFC, with a more established resume.
“It’s great being the champ, great exposure being on CBS, but I feel like I’m in a situation where a lot of people are going to want me to fight for them,” said the champion. “I got great exposure out of them and it just gives me options going to another show.”
Even though the UFC, specifically President Dana White, has been known to hold grudges against fighters that slight the MMA powerhouse, Shields doesn’t see there being a problem with them offering him a contract.
“As far as I know, I was on good terms with them before I signed this last contract, so I don’t think there should be any problem…As far as I know they’ll be interested so hopefully it will work out,” said Shields.
The only thing holding Shields up from the move is ProElite granting him his outright release. There is a slight possibility that they may try to sell off his contract to another promotion, which would be an extremely disappointing move for the fighter.
“I don’t want to get stuck in some complicated thing where they’re trying to hold onto my contract, trying to sell it,” he said. “I want to be a free agent and then re-negotiate contracts from there.”
This would be an unlikely move by ProElite considering Shields has always been in good standing with the now bankrupt promotion, so there is no reason why they would not grant him his wish.