“You can be a MMA champion in any regional organization around the world, but once you make it in the UFC you become the small fish in the big pond.” ~Angel R. Cordero, The MMA Truth
The Deadline Press is the first in a new line of articles that will be coming out at The MMA Truth just hours before every UFC pay-per-view card. The goal is to capture any last-minute opinions after weigh-ins and pre-fight pressers. Enjoy!
If we go back in time to almost two years ago; a guy called Jake Shields was at the top of his career and sitting at the top of the Strikeforce middleweight division. Undefeated in almost five years, running on a 14 fights winning streak with finishes in eight of those combats either by submission or TKO, and having defeated the biggest challenge of his career so far in the form of Dan Henderson.
Soon after that, talks about a jump to the UFC start to hit the blogosphere until finally, UFC president Dana White verifies that the Strikeforce middleweight champion is deserting the Strikeforce ranks to join the world’s biggest MMA stage and will be competing at another weight class—the UFC welterweight division.
Now warp to February 25, 2012, and the story has taken a nasty turn for the worse. Jake Shields is facing his first ever two-fights losing streak, could very well be fighting for his right to remain in the best MMA show there is, and fighting a local mega favorite in one of the most passionate MMA countries in the world, Japan.
Shields’ path in the UFC has been a shaky one, but for some that has not come as surprise. Even though his long string of wins, the last two performances in Strikeforce were subpar. A very contested title bout against Jason “Mayhem” Miller that ended in a unanimous decision, and a lackluster performance against a very gassed Dan Henderson.
His very first UFC appearance against Martin Kampmann, overshadowed by too many fans arguing that the fight should’ve gone to Kampmann. “Martin was robbed.” “Jake didn’t impress.” “Georges St. Pierre will maul him.” That was the talk of the week after Jake Shields made his UFC debut.
But Shields’ luck is about to take another turn for the worst. UFC 129 saw him lose a unanimous decision to Georges St. Pierre, in a fight were GSP was apparently fighting most of the fight with an eye injury caused by a punch from Shields and couldn’t see from one side. Unable to take the fight to where he is most dominant, Shields played right into GSP’s strengths.
Throw insult to injury, Shields gets to headline a Fight Night card against Jake Ellenberger only to get TKO’ed before the first minute of the first round ended.
Tonight, Jake Shields will go inside the UFC Octagon once again inside the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo, Japan, to face one of Japan’s most beloved mega stars, Yoshihiro Akiyama, who makes his debut at welterweight.
Probably do or die for both fighters, but Akiyama will certainly have home court advantage, not to mention Akiyama probably doesn’t have to deal with jet lag.
This should be totally winnable fight for Shields, if he can only take Akiyama to the ground and doesn’t play a stand-and-bang game with him.
But, could this be the end of the UFC rope for Jake Shields if he loses in Japan? Or will he take the hometown hero out in front of his own crowd? What do you think my fellow MMA fans? Who do you have winning this do-or-die match?
Whatever the outcome is, we at The MMA Truth and all the MMA fans in Puerto Rico wish Jake Shields the best of luck, both in and out of the Octagon.
Thanks for reading.
Originally Posted at The MMA Truth.