Jake Shields wants another welterweight title shot, and a victory this weekend over Hector Lombard at UFC 171 in Dallas would be a big step in the right direction. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion has rejuvenated his career and moved to no. 6 in the rankings thanks to back-to-back decision victories over Tyron Woodley and most recently Demian Maia. While the Maia victory was the usual grinding type of Shields bout, it was nonetheless an impressive win in hostile territory over the Brazilian at Fight Night 29.
Shields draws a very dangerous opponent in the hard-hitting Lombard but is highly confident that he can get the job done and inch closer to another title opportunity. Shields dropped a unanimous decision in a title fight against long-time 170-pound kingpin Georges St.Pierre at UFC 129 before a crowd of over 50 thousand fans in Toronto.
Shields will no doubt look to avoid a stand-up affair against Lombard and will instead rely on his exceptional grappling and submission skills. The veteran should look to employ a similar game plan to the one he used in shutting down the powerful Woodley to earn a split-decision win at UFC 161. Shields will never be viewed as a fan-friendly fighter but is highly effective at what he does best.
Lombard looked stellar in his welterweight debut at UFC 166 when he starched Nate Marquardt in the first round. It showcased the type of potential that “Lightning” brings to the table. He can definitely become a major player in the 170-pound division if he can defeat Shields and look impressive in doing so.
Shields has only been stopped twice in his career via strikes, but Lombard definitely has the power to accomplish that with 19 knockouts to his credit. He’s registered a number of first round finishes during his career. Lombard seems rejuvenated in making the move down from the middleweight ranks after recording just one win in three prior Octagon appearances.
There’s plenty at stake for both competitors in this matchup. Shields can forget about those title hopes if he suffers a setback against Lombard and will have to be at his grinding best to avoid the power shots of his opponent. Lombard truly believes he will be able to keep the fight standing thanks to his tremendous physical strength and judo background and is confident he can finish Shields in explosive fashion.
Two welterweights looking to state their case as a title threat in the division should make for an intriguing matchup this weekend in Texas. Their respective styles couldn’t be more different, so it will be interesting to see what kind of contest we get between Shields and Lombard. The winner becomes a serious player in the 170-pound ranks moving forward.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports