When Jake Shields returns to the cage to face Damian Maia at UFC Fight Night 27 on October 9, some would say the longtime Bay Area MMA standout has got the deck stacked against him.
Not only is Shields fighting one of the top welterweights in the world in Maia, he’s fighting him in his backyard, in greater São Paulo, Brazil.
But in addition, it seems Shields is fighting a frustrating legacy.
Shields is coming off a split decision win over Tyron Woodley at UFC 161 in a bout which most would describe as forgettable. Shields would fail in his takedown attempts and end up earning a less-than-decisive victory based on striking in the clinch. The bout’s only real highlight was Woodley’s spinning back fist in the third round.
Prior to that, Shields got the better of Ed Herman at UFC 150, but the result was overturned when Shields found himself suspended in violation of Colorado Boxing Commission drug policy. Both the Commission and Shields have a non-disclosure agreement, but Shields did release a statement:
“To my friends, fans and the UFC,
Prior to my professional bout at UFC 150 in Denver, Colorado, I used a substance prohibited by Colorado Boxing Commission rules.
This was a mistake that I fully regret. I have shared this issue with my family and the UFC and I have apologized to them and now I also apologize to you, the fans. I promise this will never occur again in my fighting career.
I accept the Boxing Commission’s decision for a six-month suspension, which will expire in February. I ask that you accept my apology. I will be back fighting soon, and hope that the fans of MMA will support me until that time.”
Some say it’s marijuana, some say it’s an accident involving an over-the-counter supplement. Maybe we’ll never know. Oddly, the whole matter seems to be forgotten.
Also forgotten is the fact Shields fought Georges St-Pierre back in 2011 to a decision and actually beat Carlos Condit to win Rumble on the Rock’s 170 lb. tournament in 2006. That tournament also memorably included Anderson Silva.
Shields’ greatest victory? Unfortunately, it came at possibly the worst moment for the promotion he was fighting for.
Shields won the Strikeforce middleweight title with a grappling clinic against Dan Henderson in 2010, scoring one takedown after another on the legend and passing his guard repeatedly. Sure, Shields never managed a submission or came close to a stoppage that night, but he kept on the attack. It was a beautiful performance for anyone who loves good no-gi jiu jitsu. But, that’s not everybody.
The bout’s length helped the show run overtime, and Shields would find himself in the middle of a post-fight melee with his fellow “Scrap Pack” members and Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
So, what’s his legacy?
He was a contender. Maybe he’ll get back there. He’s going to have win big though — and with fourteen years in MMA at age 34, the time to shine is now. On October 9, Jake Shields needs to make a statement to remember.