Jake Shields got the win Saturday at UFC 150, but his return to 185 pounds wasn’t an especially entertaining one.
He won a grinder, outpointing Ed Herman on the judges’ scorecards for a unanimous decision. Afterward he attributed his sluggish performance to the altitude in Denver, and trainer Cesar Gracie sounds confident that his fighter will eventually settle back into the weight division where he once beat Dan Henderson.
“When Jake went down to 170, it was not as great as I think he could have been,” Gracie told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “He had some really hard weight cuts. He’s not a huge 185-pounder was the only concern that I have. … His last fight, I could see Ed Herman was a bigger guy than him. He definitely didn’t look like the Jake I know in the gym, for example. I think there was a lot of nerves on him, changing weight classes. … It takes a while to make the UFC your home. I think he’s settling in and I think pretty soon we’re going to have the Jake Shields we’ve seen in so many memorable contests, where he’s tapping people out with some pretty cool moves.”
Shields had top control several times against Herman but couldn’t put him away. The fight also stalled out in the clinch, too, though Herman was often the one initiating the position.
“I think people have seen some really great fights of Jake’s where he’s tapped people out with one-arm guillotines and stuff from the mount and all these other things he’s done, armlocks and everything, and I think for Jake, he needs to really get back into that, to finishing,” Gracie said. “We’re not going to change a tiger at this point in the game. We have to [say], ‘Look, Jake. This is what got you here. It’s finishing people. You’re a world-class grappler. Let’s focus on finishing.’”
Still, entertaining or not, Shields beat Herman, who didn’t fight well but remains a quality opponent.
“This guy’s scrappy,” Gracie said of Herman. “He’ll just kind of keep moving. He’s just kind of awkward and just a tough guy in general. You’ve got to get past a guy like that if you want to get into contention. You have to beat these guys. Jake got past him. Now he can settle in a little bit and focus on doing something better.”
It’s not clear whom Shields will meet next, but Yushin Okami was also victorious on the card Saturday. Gracie watched the fight wondering if that might be the UFC’s plan: a Shields-Okami rematch.
“There’s so many great 185-pounders,” Gracie said. “Jake has already fought Okami. Jake beat Okami. Hopefully they’re going to give him somebody else, is what I’m hoping for, but like I said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did want that matchup.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:28:10).