Jake Shields has had a terrible past few weeks.
His father and manager sadly passed away on Aug. 29, and he was stopped for the first time in his career. Clearly he needs to regroup before he steps back into the octagon to try to bring his UFC record back to .500.
When the time comes to step back in the cage, Shields will most likely be demoted to fighting on the main card, much to his dismay. He will also be demoted to fighting middle of the pack welterweights in an effort to prove that he is worthy to fight another title contender.
Who will show up in the next fight? Shields the Strikeforce champion welterweight, or the Shields that can't deal with strong stand-up? Here are some matchups that may be able to help figure that out...
(Based on the assumption that Anthony Johnson defeats Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 6.)
So Shields needs to brush up on his stand up? Who better to go toe to toe with than knockout artist, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. Why would Joe Silva set that fight up? Here's the logic behind it...
Anthony Johnson defeated Dan Hardy who 's last loss before that was to Carlos Condit. Carlos Condit is fighting for the title at UFC 137 against the person that Hardy lost to before Condit, Georges St-Pierre. That's two fights removed from a title shot. So with that being the case, Anthony Johnson is by no means a push-over for anyone, even a former title contender. He would be a perfect test to see if Shields needs to move down another rung on the welterweight ladder.
Rumble is a former NJCAA wrestling national champion, so Shields will have his hands full attempting takedowns. Rumble also brings explosive power to the octagon with a strong focus on finishing the fight. Johnson won't give Shields a chance to grind out the fight like he did so often in Strikeforce.
A loss to Johnson would put Shields on the fast-track to Shark Fights.
(Based on the assumption that Charlie Brenneman defeats Anthony Johnson at UFC on Versus 6.)
In the event Charlie Brenneman comes out on top against Rumble, Shields would be a good test for "the Spainard" as he would be ascending up the welterweight rankings.
This is based on his victory over Rick Story at UFC Live: Kongo vs Barry. At the time, Rick Story was on the cusp of title contention when he was scheduled to fight the now exiled, Nate Marquardt. That fight would have placed the winner on the fast track to a title shot, however Marquardt didn't receive medical clearance for the fight and Brenneman filled in. Story entered the fight on a 6 fight winning streak so most believed he would take care of business and walk straight through Charlie Brenneman.
Brenneman took advantage of his opportunity and out-wrestled the former collegiate wrestler to a decision victory in a shocking upset victory. With that being the case, the winner of the Johnson-Brenneman fight, deserves to move up slightly in class as Shields descends slightly in class.
With both fighters patience, this fight would be a grind until the end.
(Based on the assumption that Thiago Alves defeats Papy Abedi at UFC 138.)
Based on his quick loss to Ellenberger, Shields doesn't deserve a title contender, but he does deserve a solid welterweight and he would get just that with Thiago "Pitbull" Alves.
Pitbull is a former title contender also, losing to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 100 via unanimous decision, similar to Shields. Also like Shields, Alves lost his follow up fight after contending for the title and tumbled down the welterweight hill. Alves hasn't fully regained his footing, however he still have excellent skills that would provide a solid test for Shields.
Pitbull entered his title bout with GSP on a seven fight win streak, and looked unstoppable in doing so. They call him the "Muay Thai wrecking machine" because he used his knowledge base that carried him to 5 consecutive stoppages. He throws knees with deadly intentions, and this ironically is what lead to Shields demise against Ellenberger.
This match-up would give a good indication as to whether Shields learned his lesson to not allow a muay thai fighter to clasp their hands behind his neck.
(Based on the assumption that Rick Story defeats Martin Kampmann at UFC 139.)
Rick Story keeps coming up, doesn't he? He is the glue to this six degrees of separation type puzzle here. Rick Story defeated Thiago Alves which moved him to the welterweight middle class. Then Story laid an egg against Charlie Brenneman which placed him back in the welterweight middle class. Ironically, Story defeated Johnny Hendricks, who defeated Charlie Brenneman.
Crazy how this works.
Moral of the story is Rick Story is an excellent test for anyone in the welterweight mosh pit. Rick Story is very well-rounded fighter with fantastic wrestling base. The Oklahoma State product won two NCAA wrestling titles and brought solid striking to the octagon.
Story would provide a solid clash of wrestling pedigree with what Jake calls "American Jiu-Jistu". An impressive win would vault the winner into title contender talk again, with this loser becoming a gate keeper for the UFC welterweight division.
Somebody has to lose, right?
YES! YES! YES!
Diego "The Nightmare/The Dream" Sanchez would be a solid bounce-back fight for Jake Shields. The TUF Season One middleweight winner would be a game opponent because this would be a way to push himself up in the rankings after making the move back to the more comfortable division.
Sanchez is one of the quirkiest characters in UFC history. With his "YES" chants, yoga, and "YES" cartwheels, he seems to not have things together, but you can't underestimate his fighting. He definitely won the Ultimate Fighter tournament for a reason. He is relentless and never gives in no matter how beat up he may be. Take in consideration his lightweight title fight against B. J. Penn. Dana White said Sanchez was, " about as busted up as I've ever seen a guy." Even with all of the injuries, he fought into the final round.
Sanchez also has a knack for providing intensity to fights. From his stare-downs at the weigh-ins, to his constantly forward fighting style, Sanchez would force Shields to try to end the fight which is not his strong-point.
A loss for Shields in this fight wouldn't put him out of the UFC, but he would be on the brink.
By Bleacher Report's Antwyn Jackson