Jake Shields will be fighting on Saturday night with a heavy heart, but also with a definite purpose.
Just a few weeks ago the former Strikeforce middleweight champion lost his father Jack, who passed away at the age of 67. Shields’ father was more than just family to him. He was his manager and his best friend, so it was understandable that his father’s passing rocked him to the core.
But just a few days later, Shields declared that he would be remaining in his scheduled bout against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25 coming up this weekend in New Orleans.
The grieving process is long and difficult, but it didn’t take Shields very much time to realize that his dad would have wanted nothing more than to see his son go out and win.
“It’s a little overwhelming, a little weird, but I just felt that with this fight I need to push through it, move forward. That’s what he would have wanted,” Shields said when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.
“It’s going to be a little weird because he was always in my corner, but it’s one of those things you have to stay strong and work through it.”
Naturally when Shields first learned about his father’s death, the immediate reaction was to focus on his family and not even concern himself with something like fighting. After the initial shock settled, Shields then realized that facing Jake Ellenberger was simply the right thing to do.
“Of course it crossed my mind the first few minutes, I was in shock, it kind of came out of nowhere. I mean my dad had a few health problems, but he was still pretty much really healthy so I was in shock for a few minutes, but within in a couple of minutes I made up m mind that I was going to fight. There was no way I could pull out,” said Shields.
At that moment, Shields opted to honor his father’s memory by staying in the fight, and going out and being the best he could be when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday night in New Orleans.
“I had such a good father in my life for the 32 years that I had him. I look at the positives instead of the negatives, and he was my biggest fan,” Shields stated. “I know he’d want me to go out there and shine and that’s what I’m planning on going out there and doing.”
The obstacle standing in front of Shields this weekend is fellow welterweight Jake Ellenberger, who has literally been calling for a fight with the San Francisco based fighter since he first signed with the UFC.
Shield’s isn’t exactly sure why he’s been on Ellenberger’s radar for so long, but he looks at this as a case of be careful what you wish for.
“Honestly, I have no idea. I’m not really sure what his deal is,” Shields said about Ellenberger. “For some reason this guy doesn’t like me, so I don’t like him and I’m going to make him pay, make him regret asking to fight me.”
The way Shields makes him regret asking for the fight is to go out and perform like he knows he’s capable of performing. It’s something Shields didn’t do when he faced UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre in his last fight, but it’s a lesson learned and class is in session when he faces Ellenberger on Saturday night.
“I went there and I held back to much in that fight. First off, GSP’s a phenomenal fighter so he’s a hard guy to get off on, but really I don’t think I went out there and let it all loose. I feel like I’m a completely different fighter for this fight. This is the best training camp I’ve ever had, and I want to go out there and make a statement and work my way back to the top,” Shields commented.
“He’s a tough guy, I’d be stupid to look past him, but I don’t think he’s a GSP. I think I’m going to go out there and as long as I don’t do something stupid, I’m going to go out there and finish him.”
Shields will face Ellenberger this Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 25.