Is Strikeforce Middleweight Champ Jake Shields UFC-Bound?

Sam NassarCorrespondent IApril 24, 2010

Jake Shields is riding high after his recent win over game middleweight Dan Henderson. Shields is at a critical juncture in his career that will likely affect his ranking, career, and his overall status in the sport. 

His Strikeforce middleweight title defense against Henderson marked the final fight on his Strikeforce contract.  Finishing someone of Dan’s position in the sport certainly makes Jake a hot commodity for any of the top MMA organizations.

Shields has us scratching our heads as far as what company he wants to align himself with.  We have seen Jake step up for Strikeforce on several occasions.  Jake has fought in the welterweight and middleweight divisions of Strikeforce in order to make exciting fights.  Shields has beaten Dan Henderson, Jason Miller, Robbie Lawler, and Paul Daley.  With wins over such top competitors makes Jake on a hot streak. 

On the flip side of the coin, Jake can be spotted on this season of the Ultimate Fighter reality series.  It was surprising to see a current Strikeforce champion in a UFC production, however minimal the role might be.  Shields explained his participation as simply helping out his friend Chuck Liddell when he was asked to participate.

But could this be suspicious so close to the last fight on his Strikeforce contract?  Shields stated, "I'll be on there, but they're not going to spotlight me.”  He is simply content with being in the background helping fighters improve their ground game. 

Jake’s recent win over Dan Henderson should have Dana White grinning.  White recently deciding not to resign Hendo was a shocking decision.  However, Dana could legitimize his decision by picking up Jake who conquered the man that White pushed aside. 

In a recent interview with Dana White, the UFC President stated, “Jake Shields is definitely going to leave Strikeforce,” and, "he’s definitely coming to the UFC.”

If White speaks the truth several questions will need to be answered.  The most logical would be what class does Jake wish to fight in?  Will it be welterweight with the bull’s eye set on GSP, or will he seek to enter tap dance class with Anderson Silva?

Another interesting question is will be how Strikeforce rebounds from losing Shields.  Strikeforce has many stars but they have still not built up the reserves that the UFC has.  Losing Jake could strike a blow to Strikeforce that may take a while to heal.   

If Shields ventures to the UFC in the near future it will be interesting to see where he ends up and if the UFC’s acquisition is a major blow to their Showtime nemesis.  Wherever Shields ends up he will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.