Current free agent and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields (25-4-1) is fresh off his recent upset over MMA legend and fellow Strikeforce fighter Dan Henderson (25-8).
Since his upset over Henderson at Strikeforce:Nashville two weeks ago, there has been much speculation about where the “American Jiu Jitsu” fighter will end up next.
Shields recently took some time out to talk with Bleacher Report about everything from his recent victory over Henderson, to his thoughts on MMA ring girls, to where he may end up fighting next.
Bleacher Report: Congratulations on your recent win over MMA legend Dan Henderson, Jake. Where does this victory rank in your long career as a mixed martial artist, and do you feel Dan is the toughest opponent you’ve faced to date?
Jake Shields: Thanks. I think it was my best victory to date. It was on national TV, and I was a big underdog going in. Dan is very tough. I’ve never taken a beating in my career until Dan caught me. I was dazed and fighting on instinct through the first round.
Bleacher Report: Going into your fight against Henderson, many people considered you a heavy underdog. Do you feel less or more pressure when going into a fight as the underdog?
Jake Shields: It’s the same either way. I always go in to win, and I never take anyone lightly. Of course, that wasn’t a problem with Hendo. I was totally motivated.
Bleacher Report: Do you have a timetable for when you’d like to ink a new contract?
Jake Shields: We’re in the negotiation period, but I hope to get a new contract soon and get back to fighting.
Bleacher Report: Being the current Middleweight champ for Strikeforce, do you feel that you have more of an obligation to re-sign with their promotion and defend the Strikeforce belt than if you had lost the title against Henderson?
Jake Shields: I was taking a risk fighting Hendo without a contract, and now we’ll figure out what’s best for my career.
Bleacher Report: Having fought at Welterweight the majority of your career, what do you feel has been the biggest challenge for you moving up a weight class and taking your last few fights at Middleweight?
Jake Shields: Adding strength and weight while keeping my speed and explosiveness is a challenge. It’s a balance.
Bleacher Report: In the past, you and fellow Strikeforce fighter and commentator Frank Shamrock have expressed a disliking for each other. After your recent win at Strikeforce:Nashville, Shamrock said he was now a Jake Shields fan. Is it safe to assume you guys have settled your differences, or is there still some tension there?
Jake Shields: There’s still a little tension there, but it’s better. Frank took a step toward reconciliation, so I’ll meet him half way.
Bleacher Report: Dana White has expressed frustration over members from AKA in the Welterweight division not wanting to fight each other. I know you’ve done some training at AKA before. If you were to sign with the UFC someday, would you have any problem with fighting guys like Jon Fitch or Josh Koscheck?
Jake Shields: I’m friends with both of those guys, but mainly we see each other at training and have known we’ll fight each other at some point.
Bleacher Report: Who’s your favorite fighter in the sport of MMA?
Jake Shields: There’s several: Nick Diaz, GSP, Shogun, Anderson Silva, Gil Melendez.
Bleacher Report: If you could have one fight in your career, who would you like it to be against?
Jake Shields: I want two: Anderson Silva and GSP.
Bleacher Report: Who has better ring girls? Strikeforce or the UFC?
Jake Shields: I don’t notice the girls when I’m fighting. I’m just focused on the fight. And I don’t think it’d be smart to pick anybody. They’re all good-looking.
Bleacher Report: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Jake Shields: Thanks to all of my fans and to my teammates and family, and thanks to my sponsors – Tapout Sports Nutrition, Tapout, Rockstar, Full Tilt and EA.