The UFC tenure of Jake Shields certainly hasn’t panned out the way both sides had hoped for at this point. Shields is a pedestrian 3-and-2 with a No Contest, due to a failed drug test up to this juncture. However, all would be forgotten if Shields were to enter hostile Brazilian territory this October, and knock off top-5 Welterweight Damien Maia in the main event of UFC Fight Night 29.
Shields came into the UFC with much fanfare, after enjoying terrific success in Strikeforce. He posted a victory over Martin Kampmann at UFC 121 to secure a title shot against Champion Georges St. Pierre. While Shields did something few opponents have done by actually winning a couple of rounds on the scorecards, it was St. Pierre getting the nod by unanimous decision in front of a record 55 thousand plus fans in Toronto at UFC 129. It marked Shields’ first defeat in six years. Since that time, there hasn’t been a wave of success; Shields has gone back and forth between Welterweight and Middleweight. The low point was a first round stoppage at the hands of Jake Ellenberger. Shields showed plenty of courage going through with that fight after the passing of his father and manager, Jack Shields, just three weeks prior to that bout.
Shields has now settled into the 170 pound class again, and was victorious his last time out against Tyron Woodley at UFC 161. The fight itself, however, was rather uneventful; despite the win, it didn’t garner Shields much in the way of praise for his performance. The opportunity against Maia might be the last chance to make a favorable impression. and to restore the lofty status Shields once enjoyed. Shields is fully aware of the type of environment he will be entering in Brazil, but has said it’s his goal to beat Maia at his own game. Both are terrific submission specialists, which would lead most to suspect a chess match ground battle. Neither fighter is particularly adept in the stand-up game, but Shields would likely enjoy a slight advantage in that department.
Shields has never been able to hit his stride in the UFC since coming on board, but a lot will change if he can get the job done Oct. 9th against Maia. Maia has shown himself to be a legitimate title threat since moving down in weight, and has reeled off three straight impressive victories. If Shields can derail Maia’s title aspirations, he definitely would find himself relevant again within the Welterweight ranks.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports