There was much anticipation surrounding former EliteXC welterweight and Strikeforce middleweight titleholder Jake Shields’ UFC debut at UFC 121 against Martin Kampmann.
For Shields it was no walk in the park, but the exhausted Cesar Gracie trained fighter pulled out a split decision victory, earning a title shot in the process.
Shields was able to get the fight to the ground early and mount Kampmann but Kampmann showed his resilience improving his position and worked his way back to his feet.
Following the first stanza, Shields commented in his corner, “It’s the weight cut.”
Shields hadn’t competed in the 170-pound division in over two years and he reported had a rough weight cut.
In the second round Shields’ fatigue began to show and Kampmann began to see success. Kampmann was able to fend off several takedowns and landed knees inside the clinch.
Heading into the final round Shields was wobbly on his feet and it looked as if Kampmann had an opening and opportunity to possible finish Shields and play spoiler in his UFC debut.
Kampmann, the superior striker, opted to try and submit Shields instead of separating and striking, a mistake that may have cost him the fight.
Shields’ grappling ability proved too much for Kampmann who came up short on the ground.
With the win Shields extended his win streak to 15 in a row and earned a shot at the winner of champion Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck who headline UFC 124 on Dec. 11. Shields hasn’t been defeated since Nov. of 2005.