Jake Shields Knows Father “Would Have Wanted Me to Fight”
By Kelsey Mowatt
When news surfaced last month that Jack Shields, the father and manager of UFC welterweight contender Jake Shields, had passed away at the age of 67, many might have assumed that the renowned fighter’s upcoming September 17th bout with Jake Ellenberger would be postponed. The loss of a father is of course tragic at any time, and in light of the fact that Shields was set to fight just a couple of weeks later, the bout appeared to be very much in doubt.
But after taking some time to sit back and reflect, Shields decided that he would face Ellenberger as scheduled at the UFC Fight Night 25 card in New Orleans. According to Shields, the man who had been so closely involved with and supportive of his MMA career wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“It definitely was a big factor; he would have wanted me to fight so it was the right thing to do,” Shields told FCF. “I think, for myself, it gave me a way to work through this as well. If I had just stopped, I would have probably gone through more depression, so it gives me something to work my energy towards and keep pushing. I’m probably in the best shape of my life and I’m ready to go out there and give a good performance.”
In addition, Shields says that outpouring of support from his friends, fans and the UFC were of great help during this difficult time.
“Hundreds of calls, emails, messages from Facebook, Twitter, even random people on the street, it’s been really good to see all these people supporting me,” said Shields. “At times it’s been almost overwhelming, sometimes it kind of brings you back when you don’t really want, but overall the support has been great during this tough time.”
When FCF last spoke with Shields in July, the former Strikeforce champ admitted at the time, that he was largely unfamiliar with Ellenberger’s make-up as a fighter. Of course, with the fight set to go down in just a few days, Shields is now much more knowledgeable about his next opponent.
“I’ve watched five or six of his fights and I think he’s a tough up-and-comer,” said Shields about Ellenberger, who has won four straight fights heading into this Saturday’s bout. “I still think I’m on a different level. He’s a guy you have to watch out for, he’s got really heavy power, good wrestler, but I think his jiu-jitsu has big holes in it. I’m not looking past him, but this is a guy that I want to go out there and finish; I want to make a statement.”
Once again, it seems as though the consensus pre-fight breakdown is that Shields (26-5-1) will probably have to get Ellenberger (24-5) to the mat, if the highly regarded grappler is to record his 27th pro win.
“Ideally, I mean I’m ready to stand with him if need be, but of course if I think his biggest weakness is his jiu-jitsu and that’s my biggest strength, I’d like to put him there and make it a easy fight,” said Shields. “I think it’s one of those fights that could be a difficult fight or an easy fight, and ideally I’d like to put him away in the first round…I don’t want this to be a tougher fight than it needs to be.”
This Saturday’s bout will mark the first time Shields has fought since April, when he lost by unanimous decision to champion Georges St. Pierre. The defeat was the first for Shields in 15 fights.
“At first I didn’t really know who Jake Ellenberger was,” said Shields, while discussing the fact that once again the UFC has assigned him headliner status, against a rising force in the welterweight division. “At first I was a little disappointed as I wanted to fight a Jon Fitch, BJ Penn or Josh Koscheck. But the fact that they were giving me a main event was a huge honor, and even though I originally was hoping to fight someone else, I’m really thankful for the opportunity.”