Jake Shields file photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As an announcement regarding Jake Shields' expected signing with the UFC looms, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion’s trainer shed some light as to where the 31-year-old acquisition will fit into the promotion.
“Jake Shields will be debuting at the 170lbs weight division in the UFC,” read a post on GracieFighter.com, the site owned by Shields’ trainer Cesar Gracie, on Thursday.
The fighter's manager and father, Jack Shields, told Sherdog.com on Friday that the signing should be complete in the next few days. The elder Shields had said on June 30 that his son hoped to debut as a UFC middleweight, possibly against champion Anderson Silva, as welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre would be tied up with “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series and a pending bout with rival coach Josh Koscheck later this year.
However, it appears talks between the fighter’s camp and the promotion led to an alternate plan.
“After careful consideration and consulting with UFC representatives it was determined Jake would be finally going back to his original fighting weight,” read the post.
Shields, who successfully defended his title against former Pride Fighting Championships champion and UFC middleweight Henderson on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., opted to not negotiate a renewal contract with Strikeforce prior to that bout. Meanwhile, the fighter’s existing contract didn’t contain a standard “champion’s clause,” which could have placed stipulations on Shields’ renegotiations while he remained a titleholder.
When the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract, Strikeforce opted to release Shields of his remaining contractual obligations during the contract’s “matching period.”
Shields will carry an impressive 15-fight win streak into his Octagon debut, which is yet to be announced. The Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt holds key victories over Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, and Carlos Condit. Shields hasn’t lost a bout since 2004.
“Jake's opponent is one of the UFC's top contenders and will be announced shortly,” said the GracieFighter.com post.