Jake Shields apparently will be moving up to Middleweight sometime later in 2012.
After having a successful run at 185 in Strikeforce, Shields has since moved to the UFC and into the Welterweight division. After his first fight with Martin Kampmann, he won a shot at champion, Georges St. Pierre, but lost after five rounds of fighting.
Shields then took on Jake Ellenberger, but was stopped quickly in the first round. After taking two losses in a row, many were wondering if he were on the chopping block, since three in a row can earn a fighter their pink slip in the UFC. However, his next fight was against Yoshihiro Akiyama in the Asian superstar’s WW debut. Shields managed to win a decision, and get back to his winning ways.
Now, it seems that his career path may switch again. He will be going back up to MW to test his skills against some of the talent there, and add another strong name to the perceivably weak division.
But how will he fare there?
Shields’ biggest criticism is his striking, a facet of his game that he continues to work on as time goes on. With new directions, he is taking his striking game to the next level and feels confident he eventually will be able to strike with some of the best. He will certainly want to make that happen, since he is looking to go into a division ruled over by one of the greatest strikers of all time.
Anderson Silva stands as king of the 185 lbs hill, but theoretically if you were to have the right formula to beat him, you would need a strong wrestler, with great submissions and submission defense. This describes Jake Shields, but assumingly, many people don’t foresee him getting to that point any time soon.
Since he doesn’t have the hype and statistics he had coming over from Strikeforce, he won’t be looking to go right into a title shot or a title eliminator. He will have plenty of great fighters to be matched up with, and many fights that his “American Jiu-Jitsu” will be interesting to see applied in.
Having Shields face someone like Palhares would be an interesting style matchup, since both fighters’ level of BJJ is high. Maia, had he not dropped, would have been another good fight. But Shields will have others such as Bisping, Belfort, Le, Leben, and Sonnen to deal with. Sonnen might be one of the best potential fights for Shields, based on Sonnen’s style and abilities.
Another great fight would be to see Shields face Jason Miller again, but this time in the Octagon. The UFC brass would probably keep Nick Diaz out of the corner though to be on the safe side.
Shields will find himself in a division with a diverse group of fighters probably more tailored to his style. The Welterweight division has many great strikers, which may have been why Shields had some trouble there. Given his losses were against two of the best in the division, his striking should fare better at Middleweight though.
If Shields can improve his striking and stay true to what works for him when it is wise to do so, Shields could find great success at 185 in the UFC.
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(photo form stek.com)