Jake Shields is plotting a course back to the UFC welterweight title and that path may take him directly towards the champion’s home town and a fight with his teammate.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion returned to welterweight two fights ago and the results thus far have been quite promising. Shields defeated Tyron Woodley back in June before heading right into the teeth of the beast when he traveled to Brazil to face top five ranked welterweight Demian Maia.
It wasn’t an easy fight by any means, but Shields came away victorious after five hard fought rounds, and he knows that beating Maia on his home turf is no small victory.
"I don’t feel like he had an off night, but I beat him at his best," Shields said about Maia when speaking to FOX Sports. "I feel like I’m at my best right now, I want to move back up and get another title shot."
Shields came into the UFC right after defeating Dan Henderson in Strikeforce and with one win over Martin Kampmann the promotion shuffled him into a title shot against champion Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129 in April 2011. Shields didn’t get a win that night, but he did manage to steal a couple of rounds from St-Pierre, something few fighters have been able to do during his storied run as champion.
It’s never easy to earn a rematch, but Shields believes he’s putting together the kind of wins where he can’t be ignored forever. Right now, Shields is looking towards two particular fights coming up in November and December for his next opponent.
There is the fight at UFC on FOX: Pettis vs. Thomson where Carlos Condit meets Matt Brown, and then the upcoming matchup between Rory MacDonald and Robbie Lawler at UFC 167.
"I just want a big fight that will get me back and get me a title shot," Shields said. "Obviously, I’d love to go straight into a title shot, but realistically I’ll probably fight one of those guys."
The one name that stands out bigger than all the rest is a fight against Rory MacDonald, should he get past Lawler in a few weeks at UFC 167. Shields has already submitted Lawler in a fight they had in Strikeforce, and he also holds a win over Carlos Condit from a fight in 2006. Given the current landscape at 170 pounds, Shields thinks that a win over St-Pierre’s main training partner will go a long way to securing that elusive second title shot.
"Rory (MacDonald) probably won’t fight GSP so I think that fight would make a lot of sense if Rory wins," Shields said. "I would feel like Rory would make the most sense because he’s been looking amazing, and also the fact that he is GSP’s teammate so if he wins he’s probably not going to go fight GSP unless he decides to move to 185 so that fight makes the most sense."
Shields is targeting MacDonald because he’s a top ranked welterweight and also because he’s a valuable asset in St-Pierre’s training camps. In the long run, Shields wants a title shot against whoever holds the belt, but unless something major change he believes even after UFC 167 that man will still be St-Pierre.
"(Johny) Hendricks is a nasty fighter, he could come in and pull off the KO, I just feel like GSP, he always finds a way to win," Shields said. "He’s such a smart fighter and so athletic and such good game plans."
For now, Shields will sit back and just be a fan for the next couple of UFC shows as he awaits word on his next fight. His next competition will take him back to his grappling roots where he will battle Leandro ‘Lo’ Nascimento in a grappling, submission only match at the upcoming World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in Long Beach, Calif. on Nov 10.