It’s been a long time coming, but Jake Shields has finally found his way to the Octagon. After years of claiming he wanted to face the planet’s top dogs, the former multi-divisional champion believes now is the perfect time to test the UFC waters.
“I could have re-signed somewhere and made good money fighting lesser competition,” Shields told SI.com. “Not bad competition, still tough guys. But I felt I’m ready to go out there and fight the best of the best. It’s my time.”
Shields had the opportunity to join the world’s biggest MMA promotion before signing with EliteXC in September 2007, however was somewhat forced to join Strikeforce in June 2009 when the San Jose, California based organization acquired his rights after EliteXC went belly-up.
While MMA purists continued to question Shields’ resume, the ground guru continued to stockpile wins to the tune of a 25-4-1 professional record, including 14 straight. What appeared to solidify is elite status was his dominant victory over Dan Henderson at “Strikeforce: Nashville” this past April.
The 31-year-old subsequently kicked off a frenzied free agency period, which culminated with this week’s announcement that he would finally make his Octagon debut on October 23rd against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121. Given the amount of hoopla he received during his courtship, Shields knows all eyes will be on him and he needs to perform.
“A lot of people will want me to win,” Shields stated. “A lot of people will want me to lose. People are going to watch this fight to see how I fair. There’s a ton of pressure. But I also felt like there was a lot of pressure in my last fight, too.”
Shields will dabble in Georges St-Pierre’s division to begin with, likely until he gets a shot at the planet’s best 170-pounder, however a jump to the middleweight class to challenge for Anderson Silva’s belt is on the preliminary agenda as well.