Jake Shields Not Set on Move Back to 185, but Feels Stronger There

March 30, 2012
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In 2009, with limited options at welterweight and a teammate competing in the same division, Jake Shields decided to try his hand at what it was like to fight at middleweight.

For his first trip to the division, Shields faced knockout artist Robbie Lawler, and while many questioned the lifetime 170-ound fighter moving up in weight, it took him just over two minutes to prove critics wrong.

Shields submitted Lawler and then went on to win a five-round decision over Jason “Mayhem” Miller. He then scored his biggest win at 185 pounds as he took out former Pride champion Dan Henderson in dominating fashion, as well.

It was then that Shields signed with the UFC and moved back down to his natural weight of 170 pounds, but the results have been somewhat mixed since then. Shields has gone 2-2 in the UFC, although his losses have come to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and top contender Jake Ellenberger, but the San Francisco area fighter admits the differences in the weight classes have shown through lately.

“I just feel a little stronger (at middleweight). It really helps my takedowns the most. Takedowns are where you really need that strength and I just feel like I can sustain my energy a little better without the cut. I just feel like it drains me a little bit, cuts back on my cardio,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com.

Generally speaking in MMA, most fighters try to cut the maximum amount of weight to try and get an advantage over an opponent size-wise, but Shields points to a few sterling examples of fighters who don’t have to cut much weight and seem to do just fine.

“Sometimes you see guys who cut less weight do well. Like Frankie Edgar and Dan Henderson are two examples of two guys who really don’t cut that much weight, but do great,” he said.

Shields just completed a two-week training stint in Florida at the Blackzilian camp, and is now back home in California where he’ll pick back up with his team at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. While he says no decision is set in stone, he’s leaning towards a return to 185 pounds for his next fight.

“Right now, I’m trying to bulk up and see how I feel. It’s not 100-percent, but I’m waiting to see on an opponent and then I’ll take it of course, and I just felt like cutting weight makes you feel a little weak,” said Shields.

“I’m certainly not against it and I’m kind of leaning towards taking a fight at 185. I’m just trying to make sure I put on a few pounds first. I’m not really that big, but I’m feeling strong. I’m only weighing like 190 or so, but just those extra couple pounds from like 185 to 190 I just feel so much stronger. It’s that last little weight that wears me out.”

If Shields does indeed take a middleweight fight next, it by no means closes the door on a future return to welterweight. 170 pounds is where Shields has spent almost his entire career, and he knows he can compete with the best fighters in the division.

Even in his last fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144, Shields got through the 15-minute bout with no problems, but he’d be lying if he didn’t admit it was tough.

“I felt fine, but I feel like the last five pounds kind of weakens me out,” Shields stated. “I feel like I’m definitely still capable of fighting at 170, it’s not like I’m saying I’m done at 70 for good. I’ve got wins over (Carlos) Condit and (Martin) Kampmann, and these guys are the top contenders. So I’m not against fighting at 170. It’s just at this point I’m undefeated at 85. I just feel like try it out there and see how I feel, and make the decision from there what I want to do with my career.”

The real decision maker for Shields will be when UFC matchmaker Joe Silva comes calling for a fight. If there is a good name at 185 pounds for Shields, then it’s likely he’ll be fighting at middleweight. However, if there’s a bout he just can’t refuse at 170 pounds, that will be his weight class for one more fight at least.

“I told them I’d like to fight late July/early August. I’m waiting to hear a call from them. I’m in no rush. If they call with an opponent at 85, I’d take it right now cause I’ll have enough time to bulk up, I’m just trying to lift. But I’m not opposed to fighting at 70, if they call with a good offer for a fight at 70, then I’d take that as well,” said Shields.

“I talked to my manager and I talked to Joe briefly about it, and he said he thought it could kind of be a good idea. I’m just kind of letting Joe and my manager figure it out to be honest.”

Shields will continue his weight regimen until the UFC calls with an opponent and then the final decision will be made if he is returning to the middleweight division.

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  • rsnowbass

    Like I’ve always said…never can I think of a more over-rated fighter. Respectfully of course, best wishes for Mr. Shields.

    • mich1fan

      How about Tito Ortiz. The dude is most overrated fighter of all time. Give me a break, his title defenses were pathetic. other than silva he defended against bums like Yuki kondo, evan tanner, elvis sinosic, vlad matyushenko, give me a break. then for about 5-6 years the only guy he could beat was ken shamrock. absolutely pathetic. if he would’ve started fighting today, he would have never come close to winning any title. OVERRATED

      • rsnowbass

        I’m going to have to disagree, respectfully. Today, fighters have evolved and Tito, not so much. So I’m with you there. But back in the days of Titos defenses, the names you mentioned were legit. Problem was, Chuck knocked out Randleman before Randleman could get a shot at man-handling Tito.

        You could pose the same argument with Liddell’s title defenses minus Randy but I’ll never call him overrated because he was the best of his time which then was Tito, Randy, Wanderlei.

        • rsnowbass

          Sorry to leave Rampage and Shogun out but back then they didn’t have the same hype behind them.


        • MrAdidas

          AGREED! Tito back then was “a beast”, but now/today MMA is completely diff. Tito was in a diff “ara”, where they were’nt as skilled or as evolved as MMA fighters are today.

  • adam1848

    Overrated? He tapped out Hendo and did better against GSP than anybody else. If anything, he’s underrated.

    • rsnowbass

      Ah HA….you took the bait!

      I agree with you to an extent. Id argue Hendo gassed himself into submission and lost the fight himself. 9 out of 10 fights I’d still take Hendo over Shields. GSP? Agreed again and great point, but! GSP is not the same killer / finisher he was before the belt. I just don’t see Jake as having the tools enough even to be a solid gatekeeper, rather a mediocre one.

      That’s just my opinion and we all know what opinions are like…


      • adam1848

        I guess for me the question is whether or not Jake’s striking is going to improve. HIs sick BJJ can only get him so far, but if his striking gets tuned up a bit, he could be legit, I think. Look at how far Nate Diaz’s boxing has come from his days on tuf? If Jake puts in time with his hands and continues to develop like other guys in his camp, then I can see a future for him. But you are certainly correct, a few more years as a mediocre gate keeper is the other side of the Shields coin.


        • MrAdidas

          BTW: How did Shields win the 4th & 5th Rounds?! If I’m not mistaken, didn’t GSP land a sick head kick in the 4th Round & then the 2 of them traded punches. I may … “MAY” see how Shields got 1 Round, but even that would be generous, but TWO Rounds for what … doing nothing. GSP did most of the “work” & he had 1 good eye, for christ sakes. Shields is good, but NOT UFC Champ good! (well maybe @ MW if Silva retires, b/c MW is shit)

      • MrAdidas

        Dont forget GSP had 1 good eye!

    • LongDongSilver

      True he won two rounds against Gsp but he won 4 rds of LnP against Hendo in a lame performance pal. Very overrated is correct.

    • mich1fan

      He won a 5 round dec against hendo, did’nt tap him out.

      • fjc1113

        Thank you.. As I scrolled down I was hoping someone would catch that. Shields is tougher than I thought tho. Hendo blasted him right away but he survived. Going face first into the canvas must have wine him up hahaha

  • pooby

    I’ll always hope for a Shields loss in any matchup. A Shields win, by definition, is a boring hump-fest.

  • dgs

    Jake your problem isn’t the weight class you’re in, it’s your lack of anything resembling a stand-up game. You are a one dimensional fighter, and it doesn’t matter what weight class you’re in, you will continue to lose until you significantly improve that aspect of your game.

    • LongDongSilver

      Agreed his stand up is brutal and he can only submit guys who have no ground game LnP Jake

      • mich1fan

        rewatch the gsp fight, and then try and say his stand up is brutal. im not sayin hes a great striker, but he fought the entire fight against gsp on his feet and won to rounds striking.

        • MrAdidas

          Yeah he won “two” rounds, how a guy wins a round by not doing much, but almost gets KO’d by a head kick?!? Yeah sure … wink wink. He also “won” the 2 Rounds GSP had only 1 good eye & he still didnt do much, considering his oponent had 1 eye. Take a look at the first 3 Rounds & let me know how Shields did when GSP had 2 good eyes… NOT VERY GOOD!

  • mmachoman

    If all you have is ground game and you can’t take someone down, you’re going to have a long night, and if you’re too one-dimensional, the opponent will see you coming from a mile away.

    If I was Shields, I’d be finding the best stand-up coach I can get and training my ass off because I’d be seriously afraid of the sharks swimming in the 185 pool.

  • Booker T

    He’s a vegetarian wimp.

  • BizzleZX10R

    He won rounds against GSP after that poke on the eye which was obviously on purpose,look at the gif.

    He’s an overrated fighter..0 stand up game and constant single leg takedown attempts is all he does.

  • MaritalArtist

    I like shields at 185. If it helps him with takedowns, then I say do it, since takedowns are crucial to his game plan. Also, he wants it. He is undefeated at 185. He beat Dan. Dan still can’t wrap his head around it. Neither can I. But one thing’s for sure, this is not his first upset, as jake beats lots of guys he “isn’t supposed to beat”, much like guy from toms river.

    I love how so many people complain about shields’ game beig boring. I love his game! If you are a true mma fan, you’d love it too. I dont like bjj over wrestling/GnP or over cardio. It’s whatever works. That’s what mma is all about: guys bringing different things to the cage, and fighting under a minimal set of rules to see who’s best (and to make a living).

    His boxing has improved. No, he will never be as good as silva, but he’s improving with every fight. (the other jake caught him early, so we couldn’t see his boxing then, but we saw it later in Japan). Even GSP said his boxing was much better than he expected, and I’m sure sexiyama would concur. So his working hiss ass off on boxing the last couple years is finally paying off. Does he look sexy while boxing? No. He still looks like a damn robot. But who cares? If this were a dance contest, I’d care, but it isn’t.

    I don’t think he can beat silva (maybe a +700), but he’s not a major underdog to any other fighter at MW, and a favorite in fact against most.

  • Prodigy815

    He’s just not the athletic specimen championship level fighters are.If he hasn’t learned how to strike with over a decade in the game he never will,and with his lack of explosiveness he will never get a takedown against someone with decent tdd.

  • Dumb move right there, what he wants to rematch st-pierre and give us another boring fight.

    He cant cut it at 170, is best is at 185, he is not over rated, he is that good but at 185. That 15 pound cut is killing him.

    He best Dan Henderson in is last strikeforce match so he is far from being overrated. Dan is a beast.