For more than a decade, Jake Shields has been considered one of the best welterweight fighters on the planet and he doesn’t plan on letting that moniker slip away any time soon.
Consider this for just a moment — as Shields prepares to fight Danny Davis on Saturday in Professional Fighters League on the NBC Sports Network, he actually holds wins over both of the co-main event fighters competing at UFC 214 that same night as Tyron Woodley battles Demian Maia for the UFC welterweight title.
Those are just two of the many top names on Shields’ resume but at 38-years old even he’s capable of getting a little complacent in his career.
Take for example Shields’ last fight where he lost a unanimous decision to Jon Fitch with the World Series of Fighting welterweight title on the line. On that night, Shields knows he didn’t have his best performance and it’s something that’s stuck with him for the past seven months as he’s prepared for his return to action.
“I didn’t feel like myself that night,” Shields told MMAWeekly.com about the fight with Fitch. “It’s a combination of reasons. Sometimes you just have an off night and the camp wasn’t that great and I felt off, but to Fitch’s credit, he came in with a great game plan and fought a great fight.
“I don’t want to take anything away from him. He definitely had a good night but it’s just frustrating when you lose that fight knowing you could have done something different.”
Shields can’t exactly pinpoint what went wrong outside of a bad training camp the left him lethargic going into fight night but unlike other sports where you’re able to dust off and go back out there a few days later, he’s had to stew in that defeat for several months now.
“Losing to [Jon] Fitch was frustrating last year,” Shields said. “He definitely legitimately beat me, but I had a really bad training camp going in and part of the reason I came out here was having people who can wrestle and really making some changes.”
Those changes included a move to New York where Shields has been training full time at Renzo Gracie’s Manhattan academy while working alongside a laundry list of top fighters including former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as well as former middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman.
In addition to those noteworthy names, Shields has been sharpening his already world class grappling skills under the tutelage of famed coach John Danaher.
After so many years teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu while at the top of the mixed martial arts world, Shields says it was good to go back to being a student and Danaher has managed to add a lot of new weapons to his arsenal.
“I want to show that I’m rejuvenated and fighting a lot different,” Shields said about his upcoming fight. “John Danaher is a great addition because he has a submission only style so it’s adding a lot more submissions to my game instead of just control.
“I’m doing more striking, doing my wrestling, just trying to get more dangerous everywhere.”
To prove that he’s ready to tackle the top of the welterweight division again, Shields hopes to make an example out of veteran fighter Danny Davis on Saturday night to not only show off what he’s been doing in training camp but to also send a not so subtle reminder to Fitch and the rest of the fighters in the PFL that he’s still at the top of the list in the division.
“Danny Davis isn’t a guy I know too much about but he’s still a tough fighter,” Shields said. “But I want to go out there and put him away, hopefully in exciting fashion and make a statement that I’m coming out and making some changes and then winning the tournament.”