A total of three people thought Jake Shields would beat Dan Henderson prior to their fight on Saturday night.
Okay, that number is a bit of an exaggeration, but the majority of fans watching the fights expected Henderson to become the new Strikeforce Middleweight champion. Shields was then expected to bolt, literally straight from the cage, to the open arms of Dana White and the UFC.
Shields had the night of his life against the MMA legend.
After almost getting knocked out in the first round, Shields rebounded and completely outclassed Henderson over the next four rounds. He not only beat the newcomer, he made him look old and slow.
"He [Henderson] hit me really hard. It was the hardest I've ever been hit in my life," Shields explained when asked about getting hurt early. "I couldn't lose this fight though, I wanted to prove the critics wrong."
"I wanted to finish the fight but he's a big, strong, tough guy," Shields said on his inability to finish Henderson. "I felt the fight turned on the first takedown of the second round. That's when I finally felt like I was feeling like myself and that I could win the fight."
Not only is Shields now a free agent, but he becomes one immediately after winning the biggest fight of his life, doing so in dominant fashion. After such a great showing, Dana White must be salivating at the thought of bringing him into the UFC.
Shields refuses to be like everyone else and try to figure out what's next for him.
"I just want to enjoy my win right now," Shields said when asked about his future. "My management team will figure all that out, but I just want to go away for a couple weeks. I want to heal up and enjoy what I just did."
He may not say it publicly, but you know he understands that his win tonight just added several more zeroes to his bank account.
Shields has proven his worth both at welterweight and now middleweight, adding even another dimension of appeal to his services. There are almost an endless amount of fights that could await him should he choose to leave Strikeforce for the UFC.
The most obvious fight on the table should he stay is now Jason "Mayhem" Miller. While Shields was being interviewed live on CBS, Miller interrupted demanding a fight with the champion. A massive brawl ensued and a great night of fights turned into WWE Raw.
"He's always disrespectful," Shields said when asked about Miller's antics. "This is no different than how Jason acts all the time. Sometimes we're friends, and sometimes we're enemies. That was my moment, and I don't understand why he did what he did."
While Shields is open to another fight with Miller, he also feels like Miller still needs to earn the title shot.
"No disrespect to his opponent tonight, but who has Jason beaten?" Shields wondered when asked of a possible fight with Miller. "Let him go and fight some real competition, and then we can talk about having a re-match."
If Shields does remain in Strikeforce, don't expect that match to air on CBS anytime soon. Rumors are already coming in that CBS may be done with Strikeforce for awhile.
The sour ending to the night shouldn't dampen Shields' accomplishments inside the cage, and what he's about to obtain outside of it.
Jake Shields was already considered one of the best welterweight fighters in the world, and his win over Dan Henderson puts him in the discussion for best middleweights as well.
The joy and excitement of his win tonight may only be surpassed by the large amounts of money that will be thrown his way over the coming weeks and months.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .