Having bounced back-and-forth between the 185-pound and 170-pound weight classes, Jake Shields returns to the welterweight division for good against Tyron Woodley at UFC 161 and expects to either knock out or submit his opponent.
“I’ll most likely stay at 170. I’ve been back-and-forth between welterweight and middleweight,” Shields recently told video journalist Rick Lee. “I’ve actually been successful at middleweight, but these guys are so big. I have a hard time. I walk around at 190 and I’m fighting these guys, a lot of them come down from 210. When you get in the cage and feel it, they’re just a little stronger than me, bigger frame.
“Overall, I hate cutting weight, but 170 is probably my best weight.”
Despite being fined and suspended for testing positive for a banned substance and having his decision win over Ed Herman overturned to a no contest, Shields expected a higher ranked opponent.
“I was a little surprised (at getting) Tyron Woodley,” he said. “I was hoping to fight someone in the top five, like (Jake) Ellenberger again or (Carlos) Condit or Rory MacDonald. I was hoping to get one of those huge names, but Tyron Woodley is a respectable opponent. I think he’s ranked tenth, somewhere around there. He’s coming off a big knockout, so he’s certainly a worthy opponent, so can’t complain about the fight.
“He’s a tough guy, great wrestler, an All-American wrestler, heavy hands,” Shields continued. “He’s a tough guy, but I think I’ve got a lot more experience and just advantages everywhere. Striking, I think I can beat him. I think I can beat him on the ground. I think I can tap him; better conditioning. I feel like it’s my time. I want to go out there and bring a lot of pressure and break him.”
Shields has won titles in EliteXC, Strikeforce, Shooto, and Gladiator Challenge, and feels this fight is important to get his name back in the mix of contenders in the UFC’s welterweight division.
“I think It’s very important for me. I need to go out there and win the fight. But not only win, I need to finish him and try to put on an exciting fight and try to show that I am out there and try to get my name back in title contention,” he said. “I want to get my name back out there right now and have them start talking about me fighting for the title again.”
The 34-year-old didn’t give a specific prediction for the fight’s outcome, but was adamant that he will be gunning to finish Woodley.
“I don’t want to give an exact prediction, but I plan on going out there and finishing him. I don’t want this to go the distance. I’m not just happy with winning this fight. I want to go out there and win by either knockout or submission.”
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