Shields returns to middleweight division for bout in Denver
As expected, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields will return to the division this summer. Now he knows his first opponent in the move back up from welterweight.
UFC 150 is scheduled for Aug. 11 at the Pepsi in Denver, the UFC’s second event at that venue. The first came at UFC 135 in September for Jon Jones’ light heavyweight title defense against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Denver was the site of UFC 1 and UFC 2, giving UFC 150 an anniversary sort of feel.
Shields (27-6-1, 2-2 UFC) signed with the UFC in 2010, returning to welterweight after a middleweight run that saw him claim the Strikeforce 185-pound title and defend it with a mostly dominant performance against Dan Henderson. But he went 2-2 at 170 in the UFC, including a title fight loss to Georges St-Pierre.
Shields snapped a two-fight losing skid – the first of his career – with a unanimous decision victory in February over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in Japan. But despite winning 30-27 on all three judges’ scorecards, several media outlets scored the fight in favor of Akiyama much in the same way Shields’ split decision win over Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut at UFC 121 was thought by many to be won by Kampmann.
Sandwiched in between those two close decision wins were a pair of losses. Despite losing a unanimous decision to St-Pierre at UFC 129 a year ago, Shields snapped the champ’s lengthy consecutive rounds streak. But in his follow-up at UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger in September, Shields was knocked out by Jake Ellenberger in just 53 seconds. That fight came shortly after the death of Shields’ father, who also was his manager.
Shields was a welterweight champion for EliteXC, but he is no stranger to middleweight. He moved up to 185 after a catch weight submission win over Robbie Lawler in his Strikeforce debut and beat Jason “Mayhem” Miller for the vacant belt. Then, in one of the best performances of his career, he survived a brutal first round against Henderson in his first title defense and took the next four rounds in April 2010. When Shields signed with the UFC, he was on a 14-fight winning streak, a streak that hit 15 before his loss to St-Pierre.
Herman (20-7, 7-5 UFC) returned to the UFC last year after nearly two years away thanks to knee injuries. His return has been a highly successful one. In June, at the TUF 13 Finale, Herman shut down Tim Credeur in just 48 seconds with a TKO. And at UFC on Versus 5 in August, he submitted Kyle Noke with a heel hook – giving him his first winning streak in four years.
He followed those back-to-back wins up in February with second-round submission of Clifford Starks at UFC 143, giving him three straight wins and three straight stoppages. Prior to the current streak, Herman had lost three of his last four fights. The veteran of Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” who lost to Kendall Grove in the TUF 3 Finale, started his UFC career 0-2. But he rebounded with three straight wins – all fight night bonus winners – before hitting a 1-3 stretch that culminated with a TKO knee injury against Aaron Simpson that ultimately kept him on the sidelines for so long.