If you follow these blogs you know that I was sold on Jake Shields as he headed into his second stint with the UFC. He was the 185 lb champion of Strikeforce, and had defeated future Hall of Famer Dan Henderson as the crown jewel match of a five YEAR winning streak. I picked against George St Pierre, perhaps the greatest all time welterweight in MMA, in favor of Shields only to be disappointed. Shields had nothing for Jake Ellenberger. His match this past Saturday against Yoshihiro Akiyama in Tokyo, Japan was Shields first victory back in the UFC, but the 3 round decision left more questions than answers, as it was not impressive.
And I picked Shields to win the fight. I even called the UFC out on the fight, thinking that by putting Akiyama in his hometown against Shields, they were effectively dismissing the Japanese fighter from their roster. I didn’t think Akiyama could win the fight.
But Akiyama was impressive in his first stint at 170 lbs. His takedowns were absolutely beautiful, and he pressed forward for most of the fight, taking on a defensive, counter punching opponent. Of the two fighters, it was Akiyama that I want to see more than Shields. Akiyama has a well deserved reputation for being a crowd pleaser, and he did nothing to harm that in this fight.
Shields, on the other hand, notched a win. What else is there really to say about it? He didn’t really look good in his stand up fighting, and his much vaunted ground game never really got started.
So what is next for Jake Shields? As the Strikeforce champion at the time of his negotiations, he cannot be contracted by the UFC on the lower end of the pay scale, yet his performances have been just that. He is really going to need a decisive win over a name opponent, or he may be risk being cut.
Which brings me to recommend another top notch technical talent that has failed to light up the imagination of the fans – Jon Fitch. Stick Shields in with Fitch as soon as you can, loser joins Tim Sylvia on the ‘B’ circuit.