by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
2006 was a bittersweet year for Jake Shields. After winning the Rumble on the Rock 175-pound tournament in April, Jake only fought one other time the rest of the year, mired in fight cancellations and promotions falling through.

After the frustrations Shields faced last year, things appear to be headed upwards for him after signing a deal with EliteXC and participating in Season 3 of BodogFight on ION Television, which debuted this past Tuesday night.

“The fight went pretty well for me,” said Jake of his 90-second win over tough Ray Stienbeiss. “I just came in, threw a kick, shot in, took a single [leg], passed guard and went to mount. I landed a few punches and somehow he rolled out of mount, so I just hopped right to a headlock and jumped to a guillotine and finished it.”

For Shields, fighting in BodogFight presented its own unique conundrum with the reality television format the show uses, meaning Jake had to wait months before being able to talk about the win.

“It’s hard because you go out and fight, you come back and all your friends want to know about it, but you’re not supposed to talk about it,” explained Shields. “So that’s really weird, and then they show it two months later and everyone’s congratulating you. [Laughs] So it’s kind of unusual, but not too bad.”

On the plus side, after competing in stuffy venues for portions of his career, Jake was rewarded by fighting just feet from the ocean on one of Costa Rica’s premier beaches.

“I thought it was awesome,” exclaimed Jake. “At first I thought it was weird, but it was nice. We’re right on the beach, we had the breeze blowing through, nice weather, and the audience was all just fighters.”

Shields continued, “So it was a knowledgeable audience, a really harsh audience if you were making mistakes, but really knowledgeable. So I thought it was great.”

After months of frustrations due to the World Fighter Championships falling through and then the cancellation of the Gracie Fighting Championships originally scheduled for January, Jake could have easily lost heart, but he digressed and now is happy to have a stable contract situation.

“You know, it sucks not really knowing what you’re doing when things are getting cancelled,” admitted Shields. “I had several contracts that fell through and it gets frustrating when you’re training, but you never know when you’re going to fight. Trying to peak yourself out, and having stuff cancelled, it’s just something I don’t like to do.”

“Hopefully now I’m on much more stable shows and it should be better now that I know how often I’m fighting, so I feel a lot better,” added Jake with a sense of relief.

As for being with EliteXC, Shields is genuinely enthusiastic about his new promotion.

“I’m excited to fight for them,” expressed Jake. “I’ve dealt with Rumble on the Rock [the promotion EliteXC’s JD Penn also works for] and they always treated me real good, so I’m hoping they’ll be treating me really good here.”

Shields further stated, “I’m looking forward to being on Showtime. They’re coming out here I guess on Monday to do some filming, and I’m excited about it. It should be a really good experience.”

Not only does EliteXC bring some stability to Jake’s career, but the chance of perhaps performing for the promotion’s other allied partners, K-1, Strikeforce and BodogFight, also invigorates Shields.

“I’m very happy about that [alliance],” said Jake. “I think it’s awesome that they’re working together. It sucks to be exclusive to one show and not be able to fight anywhere else. It’s exciting because hopefully I can try to unify the belts between all those shows and take them all – that’s my plan.”

So with visions of adding more welterweight gold to his waist strongly motivating Shields, he knows all that needs to come now is the opportunity to showcase his skills against some of the best 170-pound fighters in the world.

“I just want to win fights,” exclaimed Jake. “Hopefully I’ll get some good fights and I want to stay active. I’m feeling great right now, and if I can, get in four more fights or so.”

“I want to fight top competition, and we’ll see who they can get to throw at me. I’m just training my ass off, doing my part, and see what these promotions can pull up for me to fight,” added Shields.

With new contract, new promotion and new opportunities awaiting him, this could very well be the most productive year of fighting Jake has had in a long time, and he urges everyone to keep their eye on him.

“ION [Television], BodogFight, definitely check that out,” concluded Shields. “I’d like to thank Tapout and Fairtex for sponsoring me. And I’d like to thank all the fans for their support. Watch EliteXC June 2nd [on Showtime], I’m going to be beating somebody up.”