The UFC 161 undercard features a battle of two welterweights who appear to be heading in different directions when Tyron Woodley takes on Jake Shields. Both men are STRIKEFORCE imports, though they took vastly different paths to get to the UFC. Shields was one of the first transfers over when Zuffa purchased SF, and has gone a very lackluster 2-2-1 since then, while Woodley came over with the last of the SF fighters and won his UFC debut with a resounding KO of Jay Heiron.
Shields’ stock has really dropped. Shields last fought and won a boring decision over Ed Herman, only to have the decision reversed to a No Contest due to a failed test of some kind (did Jake roid or watch a Cheech and Chong marathon with the Diaz brothers? No one knows for sure). Shields has fought a very high level of competition, facing champion George St Pierre for one of his losses. He has beaten Martin Kampmann and Akiyama as well, but was not particularly impressive in any of those outings.
Woodley comes into the match with an 11-1 record, with his only loss being at the hands of Nathan Marquardt, who took almost 4 full rounds before beating him. He owns good wins over SF titlist Tarec Saffiedine and grappling wiz Andre Galvao, but he does not have the level of competition that Shields has.
The sportsbooks are likely to set Shields as a favorite in this bout. Woodley will benefit from the match being three rounds, as he will have to take it to Shields and make him work. If he allows Shields to grind and set the pace, he will likely lose a frustrating fight, but if he can get off using his athleticism. Shields is not really a KO artist, and he is almost 4 years removed from his last submission. Nevertheless, Woodley wants to do damage and not let Shields work his methodical game plan and steal rounds.
Shields will likely still be out of the title picture even with a win, but Woodley would be ready for a step into the upper echelon if he pulls off the upset.