Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
It's been nearly a year since Shields has competed, so you know he'll be hungry for a win at UFC 161. That's a good thing because aggression will be important to his cause when he takes on Woodley.
While he has made strides as a striker, Shields doesn't want to exchange in this one. What he wants and needs is to procure top-position and work his ground-and-pound and submissions.
It's a tall order, but Shields was once a top welterweight for a reason. If he comes out in top form, he may very well prove capable of controlling the action and shutting down Woodley long enough to earn a stoppage or decision win.
Woodley knocked out Jay Hieron in 36 seconds last time he competed, so he'll probably be eager to work his striking some more. Luckily, what he'll want to do and what he should do are one and the same in this case, as his easiest path to victory comes in keeping things vertical.
That's not to say Woodley should abandon the takedown entirely—he is capable of getting it and will probably be fine so long as he keeps Shields below him—but the focal point of his attack should be striking.
Projected result: Tyron Woodley def. Jake Shields via unanimous decision
A knockout wouldn't surprise me too greatly, but I think Shields at least makes this one close. Woodley's superior quickness and power will be trouble, however, as will his solid takedown defense.
In the end, I anticipate Woodley stuffing as many takedowns as he needs to in order to outpoint Shields for a clear-cut—though not easily won—decision victory.