Matthew: At one point Jake Shields was overrated, but he isn’t now. When Shields was beating guys like Paul Daley and Robbie Lawler and people were saying that he was one of the best in the world at welterweight, they were jumping the gun. Shields was definitely overrated then.
When Shields beat Dan Henderson, things started to change. Shields managed to keep an Olympic caliber wrestler on his back for the majority of the fight in his most prestigious win to date. However, even then his striking was a bit poor, as Henderson’s patented “H-bomb” demonstrated in the first round.
Since then, Shields has managed to increase his striking abilities. While he lost to Georges St-Pierre, he did much better in the standup game than anyone thought. Shields knows that striking is his biggest weakness and he will improve on it. His wrestling and his jiu-jitsu are already phenomenal. Once he gets some fluidity in his striking and his defense improves, he will be a champion.
Vince: Six months ago this is a stupid thing to ask, but now it’s a legitimate question.
Shields was a force when he was in Strikeforce and Elite XC, but since making the jump to the UFC he’s been woefully average. I’d even argue that he got lucky to beat Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut last year.
When he has control on the ground he’s a monster, but I think his takedowns are a bit overrated since the Henderson fight and his standup is just abysmal.
He looked pretty bad against GSP back in April, but I’m still not willing to call him overrated, if only because I don’t feel like he is all that hyped. If he loses to Ellenberger he definitely falls to the lower half of the top 10, but really, he might deserve to be there anyway.
Andrew: With a record of 26-5 and wins over opponents like Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Jason Miller, Paul Daley, Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann, it is hard to believe that Jake Shields could be overrated.
But he is—a little bit, anyways.
For a while, you could find Shields within the top ten of most pound-for-pound lists and many still have him ranked in the top 20.
While he does have an impressive record, I don't think Shields belongs that high up in the rankings anymore. He's one of those guys who looked really good outside the UFC and now that he's in it, his game is being exposed.
Since joining the UFC, Shields has looked unimpressive, barely beating Martin Kampmann—who is not even considered a top ten fighter—and then losing decisively to GSP.
Based on his most recent performances, Shields doesn't deserve to be ranked as high as most people have him.
Tonight, Shields has the chance to get back on track and look impressive for the first time in the UFC. Can he do it? Tune in and find out.
Andrew Barr is a Featured Columnist for Bleacherreport.com. For updates on what's happening in the world of MMA, follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/AndrewBarr8