Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields will make his return to the Octagon this Wednesday (Oct. 9) against Demian Maia in the main event at UFC Fight Night 29.
The 34-year old made his promotional debut at UFC 121 in 2010 where he edged out a very close split decision to Martin Kampmann. That victory earned him a title shot against welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre, which he wound up losing a unanimous decision. He then followed that up with a TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger.
Those two performances obviously stuck out in Shields’ head, as he has turned himself around and since gone on a 2-0 1NC run.
A little rough patch, it happens. The GSP one I felt like he was just a great fighter and I don’t think I looked terrible – I did win the last couple of rounds. The Ellenberger one, I felt like I just went out there a little wild and reckless and I just caught the knee. That’s someone I’d like to fight again, because personally I feel like I could beat him. Just trying to go back and get everything on track and winning again.
Following his UFC 150 unanimous decision victory over Ed Herman, Shields failed his post-fight drug test and was ultimately fined and suspended. At UFC 161 we saw Shields step back in to the cage after almost a yearlong hiatus against Tyron Woodley. It was another very close fight for the Cesar Gracie product, picking up a split decision.
I was happy that I won, but I thought I could have done better. He was a really tough guy stylistically and I knew that going in. He’s such a good wrestler and being a defensive striker, not wanting to take it to the ground and back me up the way he was fighting was really, really difficult. It was a tough fight, but I felt like I was able to push the fight and win the standup exchanges, but obviously I would have loved to have knocked him out or submitted him.
Wednesday night could be a make or break fight for Shields, as UFC President Dana White has stated that a win for either main event fighter is in a ‘good position’ in the welterweight division. Shields would have to agree with White, however he feels like he could still be one win away.
I would think it would put me one fight away from a title fight. I feel if Maia wins he’ll probably get the next shot, so I would try to fight someone like Rory MacDonald or Carlos Condit and then hopefully a title shot. You never really know, there are so many variables and factors; you never really know what’s going to happen in this sport.
Maia’s ground game is second-to-none, however Shields is no slouch himself. We have seen in the past that the people who take it to Maia are the ones who beat him with his own game. Shields makes no secret that getting Maia to the ground is where he wants the fight to take place.
I want to take this and make it a ground fight. You never know where the fight is going to go and I’ve got my standup ready, but I want to go and put the pressure on him, take him down and I want to try to submit him. I’m going to try to pass his guard, go for the submissions and do what I do. I hope that Demian Maia is going to do the same and welcome a ground exchange.
Shields has beaten so many top ranked talent including many in the top-10 on UFC.com’s rankings site. His Brazilian opponent is ranked at #4 which boggles Shields’ mind, but hopefully a victory will help him break that top-10.
I think it’s really weird since I’ve beaten so many guys in the top rankings and I’m not quite sure why I’m not there. It’s not something I worry about too much, I just worry about going out there and winning the fight and I know I can go out there and beat Demian Maia. Then possibly if I beat him, I’ll break the top 10, but who knows.
The two welterweights will square off live on FOX Sports 1 this Wednesday night in the main event at UFC Fight Night 29. You can catch the entire interview with Jake Shields on ‘Sucka Radio’ HERE.