UFC president Dana White was up to his old tricks again during the WEC’s first pay-per-view broadcast on Saturday night. The brash promoter was blatantly spotted tampering with Strikeforce’s middleweight champ Jake Shields.
That’s White sporting the giant Kool-Aid smile with his arm wrapped around MMA’s soon-to-be hottest free agent. Shields’ name and record are plastered on the screen as White mouths “He’s mine!” to the camera.
“The deal with Shields, is that there’s some discrepancy as to whether it’s 45 or 60 days he has left on his contract,” White told a group of reporters after the “Aldo vs. Faber” press conference. “So he can work that out with the knuckleheads [at Strikeforce], and when he does, we’ll jump in there.”
It was believed Shields hit the open market the second he posted a unanimous decision victory over Dan Henderson at “Strikeforce: Nashville” earlier this month. However, it appears the San Jose, California-based company holds a clause in his deal that allows them first dibs at retaining their champ.
Although, the Brazilian jiu jitsu ace will keep in mind the B-list treatment he received from Strikeforce and CBS leading up to the primetime broadcast when it’s time to belly-up the negotiating table.
“By them doing that it’s kind of pushing me out, but who knows, nothing’s 100 percent at this point still,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com of his co-starring role. “I’m just worried about training really hard, and if I go out there and beat Henderson it’s really going to shake things up and put me in a really good situation.”
Shields told us prior to his scrap with Hendo that he was looking forward to being able to showcase his skills on a national stage.
“This is my shot. If I go out there and tear Dan Henderson apart, it puts me in a good situation to renegotiate my contract,” Shields told 5thRound.com. “I considered renegotiating my contract before this fight, but I really wanted to be a free agent and see where things go from there.”
If White has anything to say about it, his next stop could be inside the Octagon.
“I’m very confident that he’s going to be with the UFC,” White matter-of-factly stated.
In addition to his slick BJJ game and much-improved standup, Shields can also legitimately challenge for the crown at two different weight classes, driving up his market value even further.
Shields has long professed his desires to compete against the world’s best, and if that is indeed the case, the UFC houses the planet’s top dogs in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions.