ROSEMEAD, Calif.—Jake Shields is set to make his UFC debut this Saturday at UFC 121 in Anaheim. At yesterday's press conference, Dana White made it clear that, if it had not been for bad timing, Jake Shields would be right on deck for a title shot against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
It's a pretty big honor to get the recognition of being worthy of title contention before even stepping in the Octagon. Shields recognizes the rarity of the immediate consideration and doesn't disagree with the UFC president.
"I think it's great that Dana gives me that kind of respect," Shields told Bleacher Report. "Of course, I'm not going to argue with it. I fought a lot of great fighters [that are] not in the UFC."
The fact is, however, that Jake Shields is not fighting for a title in his debut. No, he's fighting a man who was very recently in title contention.
That man is Martin Kampmann.
The fact that Shields is fighting Kampmann doesn't take away from the dangers of spoiling his UFC debut. After all, this isn't the first time Kampmann has fought a debuting fighter who held a high ranking in another organization.
The last time Kampmann stood at the UFC gates to welcome a newcomer was back in April 2009 when he battled former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit. The night ended with Kampmann taking the split decision win over one of the WEC's best competitors.
Coming from Strikeforce, Jake Shields knows that he has to take Kampmann as serious as a heart attack.
"I think he's a tough fight," Shields said. "I'm not looking through him by any means. You know, I obviously want that title shot, but I have a hell of a fight Saturday night. I'm taking it seriously."
After months of contract negotiations, Jake Shields' place in the UFC is now official, and the Northern California native feels he is in a place where he gets the props deserving of a fighter on a 14-fight win streak.
"It feels great," said the former Strikeforce middleweight champion. "I've been in this sport forever and never really got the recognition...I felt I deserved, so it's nice to finally be out here fighting in the premier organization."