Jake Shields has said on more than one occasion that he wants to be in the UFC where he can test himself against the best in the world. It’s no secret that the vast majority of top 170 pounders are signed to Zuffa, so Shields frustrations are entirely understandable. The interwebs has been abuzz about the future of certain fighters since the Pro Elite deal was announced, and whether Shields would end up in Strikeforce or the UFC has been one of the main topics of conversation. According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, talking to Cage Potato, Shields will most likely be fighting for his company.
I’ve only had [a conversation about being released and going to the UFC] with one fighter. And we’ve had two or three conversations with that fighter since, and now I think they may be feeling a different way than they were before. And I can understand the frustration that a lot of these fighters are feeling, because they’ve been out of work for a while. And the fighter who was originally looking to go to the UFC is now saying, ‘Do you think I could fight by May?’ So I think they see what we’re doing and it’s going to be okay.
Yeah, technically Coker didn’t reference Shields by name, but there’s absolutely no doubt who he meant. Anybody thinking Dana is dying to put KJ Noons up against BJ Penn just so he could promote a “BJVSKJ” fight? Or maybe ‘Krazy Horse’ or Bo Cantrell have been in talks with the UFC? No? Didn’t think so. And I doubt he’s referencing Gina.
While Shields is literally the only top ranked welterweight not in the UFC, this is likely a good thing for him. The top of the 170 lb division in the UFC is going to be tied up for a while. Shields would most likely get lost in the shuffle with the upcoming GSP-Alves title match, the debut of Carlos Condit, and Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, and Mike Swick all quickly climbing back to the top. In Strikeforce, Shields will get top billing (or close to it) on either CBS or Showtime. The potential pool of welterweight opponents isn’t that deep, but fights with Jay Heiron,
Nick Diaz, and Mach Sakurai would be compelling match-ups. A move up to middleweight against guys like Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock, and Cung Le would likely be billed as super fights and earn Shields a bunch of cash.
In short, a few more fights outside the UFC could actually help raise Shields stock in the MMA world, and in turn his value to the UFC when he finally does get there. All he has to do is win.