Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 3/20/12
Jake Shields has spent his entire mixed martial arts career gathering accolades and respect for his talent. As a champion of multiple organizations, Shields' resume includes victories over some of the sport's top fighters, and it doesn't take a deep investigation to understand what he does best is win. Over the course of five years, Shields rattled off an impressive 15-fight winning streak, including victories over the likes of Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann and Dan Henderson. In addition to the titles he amassed along the way, it also opened the doors to the most prominent organization in all of mixed martial arts. His transition into the UFC didn't come without snags. Shields won a razor-thin split-decision over Kampmann and, then, for the first time in his career, dropped two straight bouts against Georges St-Pierre and Jake Ellenberger. For a fighter whose ultra-competitive nature has elevated him above his peers throughout his career, not having his hand raised at bout's end ignited a fire inside of him. Reinvigorated and eager to return to the top of the division, Shields stepped in against Yoshiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in Japan. Despite a solid effort from the always game Akiyama, Shields was able to apply pressure and impose his will en route to a unanimous decision victory. Shields not only got back into the win column, he also took his first step toward returning to title contention. "For this fight with Akiyama, I was hungry again," Shields told Heavy MMA. "I hate losing, and the win over Akiyama felt great. I got me back into the win column and back on track. I'm hungry to get back to the top. Now I'm waiting to get my next fight. I really want to get back on track and earn another title shot. "I'm already back in the gym trying to get better. I'm pushing my standup and every element of my game to become the best fighter I can possibly be. I'm hungry, and I want to go out there and take somebody out." Head trainer and close friend Tareq Azim has been with Shields since 2006. Over that time, he has seen the tireless effort Shields invests in improving his game. But Azim saw something different leading up to the bout with Akiyama, leading him to believe Shields was prepared to take things to the next level. "Leading up to the fight with Akiyama, I saw a very hungry and angry Jake," Azim said. "He was relentless, and he showcased it in this fight. He kept the pressure on Akiyama and didn't retreat the entire fight. He went back to being Jake in this fight. He did what he does best, being relentless and coming forward. I think he put on a great performance and fought a smart fight against Akiyama because he didn't have an answer to what Jake was bringing. "I don't think anyone has an answer for Jake Shields, because he can keep that relentless (attack) up and come at you for 24 hours if he has to. Adding striking to his game only makes him that much more dangerous. He has a great straight punch when he launches it, and that was obvious in how he got Georges St-Pierre and Akiyama to respect it. "Jake has developed confidence to where he knows how to keep distance and to manage footwork. He knows how to shoot off of a jab or off a straight. I think my style and my system has worked great for Jake, and we've done really well together so far. Jake is back. Without a doubt, Jake is back." Working behind top-notch grappling and his "American Jiu-Jitsu," Shields has made the canvas the last place his opponents want to find themselves. But in order to claim championship gold in the UFC, he knows it is going to take solid striking and the ability to use his standup for transitions. While that portion of his game may not be exactly where he wants it, Shields is confident everything will come together and he will become the UFC welterweight champion. "My striking still has holes, but it has gotten a lot better," Shields said. "I am going to continue to work and develop my skills, and I believe in the next year I'll be able to stand with the best strikers out there. I still have a little ways to go, but we have definitely made big improvements. "I came so close to the title and fell short. Now I feel like I'm close again. I've beaten the current (interim) champion, Carlos Condit, and Martin Kampmann, who is a top contender right now. I know I can beat these guys, and it all depends on me working my way back up and getting my shot. I'm not sure what's next, but hopefully the UFC will give me a contender so I can get back up where I want to be."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tyler Hilinski's younger brother shares emotional message on Twitter

Karlsson rumors starting to heat up again

Seahawks reportedly interested in Jim Zorn reunion

Terence Newman does not rule out return even if Vikings win title

Latest on Tom Brady’s Sunday availability

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Predators activate Viktor Arvidsson from injured reserve

Report: Steve Wilks making ‘strong impression’ on Cardinals

Tyson Barrie unlikely to be traded by deadline

Report: Tom Brady threw 'incredibly well' during practice Friday

Pacific Notes: Flames looking for winger, Nugent-Hopkins' injury won't change Oilers' plan

Knicks hesitant to go after Kemba Walker

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: History will be made in the NFC

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Greatest NFL Conference Championship moments ever

Top 10 X-factors for Conference Championship Games

Case Keenum deserves better than the also-ran description

Best performances in the history of NFL Conference Championship games

15 underrated NBA players having tremendous seasons

MMA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Nassar's victims put USA Gymnastics, MSU on trial

Top 25 times franchise players have changed scenes in MLB

The 'One of these things is not like the other' quiz

The best college hoops games to watch down the stretch

NHL Weekender: Kings, Leafs heading in the wrong direction

The 'Baby I'm a (All-)Star' quiz

Devin Booker is expanding his game beyond getting buckets

Ranking baseball's GMs entering the 2018 season

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: The Saints miss an important long-distance call

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames hope layoff won't cool them down

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker