Shields wants to “make a statement” in middleweight return
There was a time when Jake Shields was considered to be one of the sport’s top middleweights after defeating Dan Henderson to capture Strikeforce’s 185 lb. championship.
It was short lived, however, because he departed from the division and organization to chase a championship in the UFC. While his run at 170 lbs. saw him lose to champion Georges St. Pierre and Jake Ellenberger soon thereafter, he defeated Martin Kampmann prior to the St. Pierre fight and most recently scored a victory of Yoshihiro Akiyama this past January.
So, why make the move back up to middleweight? Well, Shields says it wasn’t the easiest of choices. But to this point he’s happy he chose to pack on the extra pounds as he prepares to face Ed Herman Saturday night live on pay-per-view at The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
“It was a tough choice because I’ve had success at both weights,” Shields recently told Heavy.com. “But I just feel a little stronger, a little more explosive, and it’s nice not having to stress myself out the last month dieting and cutting weight. I’m just a lot happier when I can do whatever I want.”
Cutting weight can be physically and mentally taxing on a fighter, so it’s easy to see why Shields has been happier with his return to 185-pounds.
Whether or not it translates into success and a permanent stay in the division will likely be determined on Saturday night, but as of now he’s fully focused and has his eyes on climbing his way towards title contention with a win over Herman.
“I’m really feeling it out,” said Shields. “But I’m hoping to get through this fight and then get a top-contender and get myself back to that title picture.”
In order to reach contender status, he has to defeat Herman, who’s as tough as they come at middleweight. A 12-fight UFC veteran, Herman has won three consecutive bouts and Shields’ is fully aware of the danger zones once he steps inside the Octagon against Herman.
“I think he’s a really tough fighter,” Shields said. “He’s got alot of heart, he’s got good standup and good ground, so he offers a lot of threat. But I also think that I’ve fought alot of top competition and probably some guys better than him, but I’m definitely taking him serious.”
In preparation for Herman, Shields honed his skillset alongside longtime training partners Nick and Nate Diaz as well as Gilbert Melendez at Cesar Gracie’s in California. Add in the fact that he’s made visits to south Florida to advance his game with the “Blackzilians” and you have a fighter that’s taking the necessary steps in order to find success in his return to middleweight.
“I definitely do the majority of my training with my home base at Cesar’s with those guys,” Shields said. “But I do a little traveling outside to evolve and get to work with new training partners and it helps.”
With that being said, Shields’ plan is to “make a statement” against Herman live on pay-per-view for the world to see and he’s thrilled to be doing so at UFC 150.
“I’m very excited,” said Shields. “I moved back to middleweight and I want to go out there and make a statement. Show that I’m ready to go out there, be a top fighter, and get to the title. Also, UFC 150 is a big number and I’m glad to be a part of that.”
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