It probably wasn’t the performance Jake Shields was looking to have in his UFC debut, but it was still enough for the one time Strikeforce middleweight champion to earn a shot at the winner of the upcoming title fight between Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck.
Prior to the fight at UFC 121, company president Dana White said that Jake Shields would likely get the next title shot if he won on Saturday night. While the win ended up being a split decision, White stood by his word, and Shields will indeed get the next chance to fight for the belt.
“No matter where Jake’s fought, what he’s done, who he’s beaten, or what he’s accomplished, it’s tough coming into the UFC for your first time. He beat a tough guy tonight and got his first win under his belt. I don’t think any differently about the kid than I did yesterday at the weigh-ins,” White commented.
When the question was posed directly about Shields getting the title shot, White didn’t hesitate in his answer.
“Yeah, he won tonight,” said White, reaffirming Shields’ status as the No. 1 contender. “We didn’t give Jake a gimme, Jake got a tough guy, and he pulled out the win tonight.”
Obviously happy to come in and get a win in his first UFC fight, Shields was quick to point out his own shortcomings and knows the things he has to change before challenging for the UFC welterweight title.
“Martin Kampmann’s a great fighter. As far as my performance, I don’t think it was my best, but it is what it is,” Shields said. “My first fight for the UFC, the jitters, a lot of things going on. I just plan to keep moving forward from here, I kept my winning streak going, and hopefully I’ll come back stronger next time.”
Before fighting on Saturday night, Shields spent the last three fights in his career competing at 185 pounds, including his April win over former two-division Pride champion Dan Henderson. Shields has always maintained he is naturally a 170-pound fighter, but the tremendous weight cut in the return to welterweight in just a few short months seemed to drain the Cesar Gracie black belt.
According to Shields and his camp, he dropped in the neighborhood of 20 pounds during his final cut on Friday, and while he gives all the credit in the world to Martin Kampmann for a tough fight, it’s hard to ignore the tremendous weight cut may have zapped his cardio.
“I don’t want to make excuses, but that was the first time down at 170 in a while. I think I dropped too much weight. If that was a factor I don’t know,” said Shields. “Pulled out 20 pounds in a day. Will I do that again? Never.”
Either way, Shields got his first win in the UFC over a quality opponent in Martin Kampmann, a Top 10 fighter, and now will keep his eyes locked on the UFC 124 fight between Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck, as he will get the winner in his second fight in the Octagon.