Jake Shields Says Move to Middleweight “Not One Hundred Percent”
By Kelsey Mowatt
After the “UFC Tonight” television show reportedly announced that Jake Shields was returning to the middleweight division, it didn’t take long on Wednesday for the news to spread throughout the MMA world. While Shields admits he’ll taking steps to return to the weight class where he reigned as Strikeforce champion, his days competing as a welterweight aren’t necessarily over yet.
“It’s still not one hundred percent; I’m just leaning that way,” Shields told FCF. “I’m just trying to lift weights, bulk up, and the biggest thing is that it’s a tough call. I’m kinda undefeated at 185 and I feel like I’m a little small for the weight, but when I cut the last little bit of weight for 170 I feel a little weak.”
“I feel great at 175,” Shields added. “But when I drop the last five pounds I start feeling weak. I don’t cut as much weight for 185 and I feel like I have a lot better conditioning and I don’t get drained.”
While Shields has long been regarded as one of the world’s top welterweights, his successes at 185 and his reign as the Strikeforce champion only furthered his standing throughout the sport.
“If they come and offer me good fights then of course I’m going to take it,” said Shields, while discussing what could entrench his return to the middleweight division. “Right now I’m just trying to bulk up over the coming weeks and see how I feel. Like I say, if they offer a good fight I’m not going to say no. I’ve always been a guy ready to fight 70’s or 85’s.”
“I’ll really fight either way. Either way I’d like big fights,” Shields furthered. “Right now I’m trying to work on training, improve my skills, and see how things go.”
Shields acknowledged being “a little small” for a division that includes physically imposing middleweights like Yushin Okami, Tim Boetsch and UFC champion Anderson Silva, among others. Of course, Shields has demonstrated the ability to defeat larger men before, including the accomplished and current UFC light-heavyweight contender Dan Henderson.
“Probably 195,” said Shields, when asked what he believes would be an ideal weight for him to walk around at. “I think sometimes guys try to cut too much weight. That’s not always the right answer.”
“Frankie Edgar has had a lot of success not cutting weight, “Shields added,“Dan Henderson has sometimes looked better at 205; everyone’s always trying to get an edge by cutting a lot of weight, but sometimes that can hurt you in the long run.”
Shields is coming off a unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 last month, after losing back-to-back bouts for the first time in his lengthy career to Georges St. Pierre and Jake Ellenberger.
“ It was okay because I won, but I felt like I lost a little strength and conditioning with my weight cut,” Shields noted. “That’s why I’m wondering if I might be stronger going up to 185.”
While Shields may have been hoping for a more definitive victory, the renowned grappler was able to outscore Akiyama striking, en route to the decision win.
“Of course, it was nice to beat a guy like Akiyama who’s known as a good boxer on his feet, but ideally I’d like to take him to the ground and finish him,” Shields said. “I feel like if I had been able to get him to the ground earlier I could have put him way. I think the biggest difference when I’m up in weight is my wrestling. I think I’m a lot stronger.”