Heading Into UFC 150 Bout With Ed Herman, Jake Shields Hoping to “Remake a Name For Myself at 185”
Former Strikeforce Champ Says Takedowns “Improves The Most” When at Middleweight
By Kelsey Mowatt
Following his unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in February, Jake Ellenberger surprised some observers throughout MMA, by electing to return to the middleweight division. Although Shields had been quickly stopped by Jake Ellenberger in his previous, he had taken reigning welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre to the scorecards at UFC 129 last April. Despite having evened his UFC record at 2-2 as a welterweight, however, Shields announced he was making the move.
Now, just days away from fighting in the division where he reigned as Strikeforce champion, Shields is confident that he made the right decision.
“I feel better; this is more my natural weight,” Shields told Full Contact Fighter. “I’m not a big 85 pounder but I feel good in my most my training camps; it’s when I cut down the last five, six pounds I start to feel weak. Now I get to go in there and not worry about a big cut. I should feel great by fight time. I’ve been able to lift more and focus on getting stronger. In the gym I’m feeling a lot stronger and faster.”
The first middleweight to face Shields (27-6), since he worked his way to a unanimous decision win over Dan Henderson in April, 2010, is fellow vet Ed Herman (20-8). The bout will take place at this Saturday’s UFC 150 card in Denver, Colorado.
“I was a little surprised because I wasn’t thinking about him but it made sense,” said Shields, while discussing his reaction upon finding out he would fight the 31 year-old. “He’s coming off a win streak; he’s been looking really good. This is my first fight back at 185, so I think it’s a good test for me. He’s trying to push himself into the top ten and I need to go out there and remake a name for myself at 185.”
Since returning from a knee injury he incurred while fighting Aaron Simpson in August, 2009, Herman has scored consecutive wins over Tim Credeur, Kyle Noke and most recently Clifford Starks.
“Yeah, I think he has been a little overlooked including by myself,” Shields noted, when asked if Herman’s recent success have flown somewhat under the sport’s radar. “Ed Herman’s definitely a guy I’ve paid attention to here and there but I only had seen a few of his fights. After signing to fight him and having watched more of his fights, he’s definitely better than I originally thought.”
“Even the fights he’s fallen short on they’ve been really close,” Shields added. “He’s either got caught or they were really close losses, so I think in his last two fights he’s looked the best he’s ever looked. He’s trying to get up there and make a name for himself, but I don’t plan on letting him do it off me.”
Of course, it wasn’t long ago that Shields was firmly positioned in the world top ten rankings, due to possessing one of the game’s most feared top games and a 15 fight win streak.
“I think we have fairly similar styles,” the BJJ Black Belt and Cesar Gracie fighter noted. “He prefers to be on top but doesn’t mind fighting off his back or on his feet. He has good wrestling but I think mine’s a little bit better. So ideally, I’ll go in there, put him on his back and make him fight from there.”
When FCF spoke with Shields following his win over Akiyama, he cited his weight cut, as one of the contributing factors behind his inability to take the decorated Judoka to the mat.
“I feel like the thing that improves the most with me at 185 is the takedowns,” said Shields, who turned to his grappling game to defeat Henderson, in what was one of his most impressive performances to date. “For me, being a grappler, it’s crucial for me to have good takedowns and that’s where I see the biggest change in my game.”
UFC 150 will be hosted by Denver’s Pepsi Center and the main card will be available via pay-per-view.