Jake Shields was at one time not that long ago considered one of the best fighters in the world.
He was undefeated from 2005 to 2010, rattling off 15 straight wins and dominating Strikeforce’s middleweight division. His big moment came in 2010 when he shocked the world and the Strikeforce executives who were feeding him to the wolves. At the time, Shields’ contract was almost up and there was a lot of talk of him joining the UFC.
With his contract about to expire, Strikeforce booked Shields against the newly-arrived Dan Henderson. Henderson was the big UFC veteran who was supposed to come in and lift Strikeforce to a new level. Henderson was supposed to come in and destroy Shields and then send Shields packing to the UFC as a damaged fighter who was knocked out in his final Strikeforce fight.
That almost happened. Henderson crushed Shields with a wicked right hand in the first round. The joke was that the “H-Bomb” knocked Shields out, but that he woke up when he hit the floor.
Henderson dropped Shields and the fight looked over, but Shields somehow managed to grab Henderson’s leg and hold his way to survival. Henderson gassed out after his flurry of punches to finish Shields. Shields spent the rest of the fight on top of a tired Henderson. He used his superior grappling and jiu-jitsu to overwhelm Henderson and win a convincing decision.
But it’s never been the same since.
Shields moved over to the UFC after the fight and barely beat Martin Kampmann. He got a dream fight against the great Georges St-Pierre and won two rounds against the champ, but even in that display, he never really looked impressive. It was just that GSP looked really bad that night.
Shields, shortly after the unexpected loss of his father, was KO’d by Jake Ellenberger. Shields has managed to put together some victories after that over some mid-level fighters, but he has never looked like the dominant guy who ruled Strikeforce.
He will battle Demian Maia on Oct. 9 at UFC Fight Night 29 in a fight that he is going to have a big problem with. Maia is another submission specialist and if Shields is not at his best, he will lose.
Shields needs to dig deep and find himself again. He’s talented and skilled enough to be a UFC world champion, but if he doesn’t beat Maia, he may never be able to rise to the top again.