by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
This past March was supposed to be a time of accomplishment for Jake Shields – currently ranked as the No. 6 welterweight fighter in the world by MMAWeekly.com – instead it turned out to be another frustrating turn in his weaving road to mixed martial arts stardom.

Originally slated to face Drew Fickett for the EliteXC welterweight championship, Shields was forced to withdraw shortly before the fight due to a back injury.

Forced to sit on the sidelines, he watched as Fickett picked apart Spirit MC titleholder Jae Suk Lim. The two then met face to face in the cage, but only to reaffirm to fans that they would be meeting shortly to determine a champion.

Since the event, Shields has been rehabbing his back injury. “It’s actually doing way better,” he exclaimed in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “It was messed up for a while and was taking longer than I wanted to recover, but I started working with a strength and conditioning trainer this last week and I’ve been able to hit pads and do jiu-jitsu again.

“There’s some minor tightness, but the pain is gone. I haven’t sparred yet. I’m doing more conditioning this week, but after that I’ll get back to my regular training.”

Shields looks to be fully recovered soon and with a recent development in the timing of his fight with Fickett, may have more opportunity to rehab further.

“I’m not 100%, but I think my fight won’t be until July (26th) now,” said Shields. “My management talked to (Pro Elite) and they talked about pushing it back to then.

“I think I could be okay to fight by (the originally scheduled June 14 event), but I think opting for July would probably be the smartest thing. It would give me more time to rehab before jumping into sparring, and I think there would be a little more exposure with it being on CBS.”

Having to wait a little longer to face Fickett has exacerbated Shield’s desire to fight him and claim the EliteXC belt.

“I’m still excited to fight Drew Fickett,” he stated. “I think he’s a tough, well-respected opponent, but I think it’s my time right now. He’s a good test for me, but I’m going to go out there and make an example out of him.”

During the conversation, Shields also took the time to give his thoughts on the current No. 1 ranked welterweight, Georges St. Pierre; a fighter he has his sights set on eventually facing.

“St. Pierre looks awesome,” he stated of the UFC champion’s recent win over Matt Serra at UFC 83. “He’s one of the fights that I’d really love to have right now.

“I need to make sure I look really good against my opponents; I want go out and dominate people so I can build some momentum for that fight.”

When asked how he thinks someone could beat St. Pierre right now, Shields replied, “He doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. He’s going to be a tough guy to beat, because it’s not like you can pick out one thing.

“To beat a guy like St. Pierre you have to be in phenomenal shape and keep the pressure on him. You’ve got to stay in his face, and if he takes you down, you better be ready to get back up and not just stay in guard and get manhandled like he’s doing to people.”

And just how would he fare against St. Pierre?

“I think I’m hard to take down and I’m good at getting to my feet,” said Shileds. “I would just try to stay in his face, wear him down and break him.

“No one is going to beat St. Pierre easily right now, but he is beatable.”

Even with thoughts of a future match-up with St. Pierre going through his mind, Shields is firmly affixed on Fickett and making this a year to remember.

“I want to say just thanks to the fans for their support,” closed out Jake. “I’m going to be back this summer stronger than ever.”