After countless years of teasing Octagon fans with a possible signing, Jake Shields finally showcased his skills in the big leagues at UFC 121. Although his split decision victory over Martin Kampmann wasn’t how he preferred to debut, a shot at the 170-pound crown awaits nonetheless.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion bumped his record to an impressive 26-4-1, including 15 in a row, despite cutting a whopping 20 pounds for their welterweight contest. Shields was so drained from the prior day’s weigh-ins, he admitted to gassing after the first five minutes of the fight.
“I’m certainly not happy for doing something so stupid,” Shields told MMAjunkie.com of inaccurately gauging his pounds. “I embarrassed myself by doing that and I don’t plan on doing it again.
“I think I’ll be much better off with three or four pounds less muscle and be able to use it instead of have that muscle be so tired that it’s not working.”
UFC president Dana White went out on a limb and promised his latest superstar signee a shot at the brass ring with a victory, despite never setting foot inside an Octagon nor competing at 170 pounds since donning the EliteXC title two years ago. Needless to say, White’s compassion was at a minimum.
“No matter how much weight he cut and whatever he did, that’s his fault,” White said a the post-fight press conference. “That’s his stupidity. He’s been in the game for a long time, so I don’t like to use any of that stuff, but the reality is I do know what he did and I know he won’t make those dumb mistakes next time.”
White wasn’t alone in his disappointment, as Shields said he would understand if his the boss opted to renege on his original pinky swear.
“It’s up to Dana, but I’ll do whatever. Of course, I really want that title shot … but if he decides otherwise, I’ll happily fight whoever he wants,” the 31-year-old expressed.
“I understand it wasn’t my best performance. So if he says otherwise, I won’t be angry. I’ll move forward and do what they ask me to do. But one way or another, I plan on getting that belt.”
His next assignment will be determined December 11th when reigning champ Georges St-Pierre defends his crown against Josh Koscheck. Although he believes Kos is more than capable of pulling off the upset, he would much prefer to test his skills against the planet’s baddest welterweight.
“I would much rather take [the belt] from GSP because he’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world right now, in my opinion,” he said in closing. “Koscheck is a phenomenal fighter, but right now it’s a little more prestigious to beat GSP.”