by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
When the latest Strikeforce on CBS show ends, so will the contract for one of the promotion’s top fighters. Middleweight champion Jake Shields will hit free agency win, lose, or draw following his title defense against Dan Henderson on April 17.

To hear the champion tell it himself, not renegotiating his contract with Strikeforce prior his fight is a risk, but it’s calculated because Shields simply wants to see what is out there for him.

“I took the risk. I had the option of course to renegotiate my contract before the fight, and I just felt like it wasn’t really that I wanted to leave Strikeforce, I felt like I wanted to be a free agent and take things from there,” said Shields when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio.

Shields has some very powerful people in the industry rooting for him coming into his next fight, namely UFC president Dana White, who has openly stated he’d like to land the former welterweight to add to his stable of fighters.

“If Jake Shields could pull that off that would be incredible. Good for him,” said White recently when speaking about the fight with Henderson “He’s going to get paid, because what’s going to happen is we would love to take him from there and I’m sure they’d love to pay him to stick around.

“And I will help drive that (expletive) number right up through the roof, and let the Showtime boys pay him a lot of money, so that Jake can stick it right up their (expletive). I just choked out Dan Henderson and now you (expletive) are going to pay me for trying to stick it up my (expletive), I’m going to stick it up yours.”

Having options is a big part of the negotiation process, and Shields admits it’s nice to have people on his side when it comes to his next contract.

“It makes me feel great to have them behind me, especially someone as powerful as Dana White. He’s obviously very important in this sport,” said Shields “I still like Strikeforce. I don’t have any bad feelings towards them. They’ve always been good.”

What has gotten under Shields’ skin is the recent advertising that has seen Henderson in virtually all of the television commercials, with little to no mention of his name in the ads.

“By them doing that it’s kind of pushing me out, but who knows, nothing’s 100 percent at this point still,” said Shields. “I’m just worried about training really hard, and if I go out there and beat Henderson it’s really going to shake things up and put me in a really good situation.”

Following the fight, Shields intends on taking a few weeks off for a vacation while his manager discusses his future plans with the organizations that will be courting him. He says he’s happy to move back down to welterweight and accept challenges with fighters like Georges St-Pierre, if that comes up, but ultimately he wants nothing more than to first beat Henderson.

“There’s a lot of factors to take in place, but I’m just worried about getting through this fight and take it from there,” said Shields. “I know Henderson’s a tough fight for the last fight on my contract, but I feel like going for it and taking it from there and see what happens.”

When the fight finishes with Henderson, then the Jake Shields sweepstakes begin and any organization that lands him will add a top fighter at either 170 or 185 pounds.