The UFC made headlines Monday with its decision to cut former Strikeforce champ Jake Shields, but UFC President Dana White has to be wondering what all the controversy is about.
Speaking with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports, White reviewed the factors that went into the UFC cutting ties with Shields:
We look at everything. Everything. Money has something to do with it. I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But that wasn't the only reason or the main reason. It was a part of the piece of the puzzle as we were doing our evaluation of him.
Shields was released from the UFC following a decision loss to former Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard at UFC 171. Lombard controlled the fight from bell to bell and left little doubt as to who the clear victor was.
White went further in his disection of the UFC's decision and pretty much stated that the UFC welterweight division won't be missing anything with Shields' departure.
Mixed Martial Arts is a young man's game. I like Jake Shields a lot. But let's be honest here: Where was he going in this [welterweight] division of animals we have? He's on the downswing, and he's never going to be the guy. His stand-up never improved. He hasn't really shown anything in his last couple of fights to make you go, 'Holy [expletive].'
Right now, at this point, he's just another guy.
To be fair, Shields has defeated a number of top welterweights in the promotion. He holds a victory over Carlos Condit, Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia. He also hadn't lost since 2011.
White alluded to Iole that Shields was due to make $120,000 for his next contest, and while that's not a lot for the promotion in the grand scheme of things, it is a lot for someone who isn't a big draw.
Shields' fighting style has never been classified as exciting, and although he's talented for sure, the only reason people would tune into a fight featuring Shields was to hope that he'd lose.
Shields' release is very similar to that of Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch. All three men were highly ranked (although Shields is currently ranked at 11, something White made sure to point out to Iole) at the time of their release, and they were cut after a single loss.
The former Strikeforce champion likely won't have to sit on the sideline for very long. Expect Bellator and World Series of Fighting to make a play for Shields in the coming days. One option I've seen discussed that I think could provide some intrigue is if Shields signed with ONE FC, via Paul Quigley of Fighters Only.
A Shields-Ben Askren fight would be arguably the biggest in ONE FC's history and would get a lot of eyeballs to its product that previously weren't watching. It would also give Askren the chance to face a credible name to validate his status as a top 10 welterweight.
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