Jake Shields Ponders Return to Middleweight

December 27, 2011
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SAN DIEGO – Middleweight remains on the mind of former Strikeforce 185-pound champ Jake Shields.

The now-UFC welterweight readies for a fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144, but prior to accepting the challenge, Shields considered returning to middleweight. The thought of going back up a weight class has always been there for Shields and, according to the Cesar Gracie fighter, the recent return of Nick Diaz to the UFC’s welterweight ranks gives the biggest motivation to move back up.

Fighting teammates isn’t something Shields is interested in. Leaving the weight class to make room for Diaz’s contention makes the most sense, according to the former Strikeforce titleholder.

“I would have no problem fighting there,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com in regards to returning to 185 pounds. “It’s something I’ve thought about before and I was thinking about it (before) this fight, but they offered me this fight (and) I took it. Especially with my teammate, Nick Diaz, challenging for the welterweight title, it’s definitely in the back of my mind going up to 185 (pounds).

Gracie’s camp – which consists of athletes such as Nick and Nate Diaz, Shields, and Strikeforce lightweight champ Gilbert Melendez – has always been a place where teammates voice their opinions about a reluctance to fight each other. It’s just not the same as fighting a guy you don’t know, according to Shields. With Nick Diaz, Shields has more than a sparring partner; he has a cohort that’s been there with him through thick and thin.

The relationship with Diaz means more to Shields than being matched against him on a UFC pay-per-view card.

“Not Diaz,” Shields answered when asked if he’d fight a teammate. “I’d fight sparring partners, but (Nick and I) are different. We trained together for, like, 11 years; so it’s a little different. We’re not just casual sparring partners. There’s a big difference.

“(Nick and I) were white belts together, and traveled all over the world and had fights together. It’s a bit different.”

The last time Shields fought at middleweight was in April 2010, when he defended his Strikeforce title against a heavily favored Dan Henderson. Shields was rocked by a Henderson right hand early in the bout, but recovered and went on to dominate the rest of the fight on the ground.

Following the Henderson win, Shields moved on from Strikeforce and made a successful UFC debut against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121. The fight was Shields’ first at 170 pounds since defending his EliteXC welterweight belt against Paul Daley in 2008.

Shields will face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC Japan on Feb. 26.


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  • Dr. F.U

    He should drop to 55, ellenberger threw him around like a rag doll. He’d get smashed at 85.

  • bajafox

    I want to see how he bounces back from his loss, that was a tough week for Jake.

    First he has to prove he is even top tier contender again in 170 before even thinking about ever fighting Nick Diaz. That could easily be a year away before Shields returns to title contention, he would need to put together some impressive wins.

    The move to 185 in the UFC is much riskier than it was in Strikeforce. If Jake doesn’t make a statement at 170 I don’t see him having much of a chance at 185…

  • RonnieV

    Jake’s last fight at 185, he destroyed Dan Henderson. He held his own against GSP, and fought & lost to Ellenberger a week after his dad/coach died. The guy is still a contender, and he’ll never fight Diaz, so a move to 185 makes sense. I personally think 185 is the weakest division in the UFC. Shields has already beat Okami, and would match-up really well with Sonnen & Munoz.

  • DrkDisciple

    I like jake but if he cant win at 170 there is no way he will do better at 185. Lets be real is there any top 10 185 pounder that he can beat?

    • RonnieV

      Jake Shields notable wins since 2005:
      Dan Henderson – 185
      Martin Kampmann – 170
      Carlos Condit – 170
      Yushin Okami – 185
      Paul Daley – 170
      Mayhem Miller – 185
      Robbie Lawler – 185
      Nick Thompson – 170

      Jake can compete at either weight class, he has two losses, and as I said before. The second (Ellenberger) came a week after his father passed away. The other went five rounds with GSP, and Jake faired pretty well.

      • DrkDisciple

        as I ve mentioned I like jake. The only notebale win in the list you put up is dan henderson. Almost all the other fighters you listed are not top ten material. His win over Condit was in 2006 there is no way that he could beat Condit right now. Okami was another fight in 2006 at 175lbs long time away. The win over kampman was questionable at best. Miller is a joke a clown, bisping proved it recently. Thompson, lawler and daley are not even top 20 material.