"Jake Shields in the UFC has now become a real possibility."
GracieFighter.com posted this statement mere hours after Elite XC was pronounced dead. Shields is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie who runs the Web site, so even as vague as this comment is, it's still coming from a very close and reliable source in regard to Jake.
Shields -- the first and only Elite XC welterweight champion -- was pretty vocal over the last few months about wanting to prove himself against the best in the sport. In fact, after defeating Nick "The Goat" Thompson in little more than a minute at "Unfinished Business" in July, he called out the winner of the George St. Pierre and Jon Fitch UFC title fight scheduled for a couple weeks later, saying he wanted a super fight against the UFC champion.
At the time it seemed like a pipe dream since the UFC obviously doesn't believe in cross-promoting and Elite XC had Shields locked up under contract for another year or so. But, now that Elite XC is no more, it appears Jake is a free agent, and would like to be the first -- and possibly the best -- former Elite XC fighter to join the UFC ranks.
Of course, if Shields does end up in the Octagon, he'll have to work his way up a very long ladder of title contenders that include Thiago Alves, Josh Koshcheck, Diego Sanchez, Karo Parysian, Jon Fitch and many more.
Elite XC was clearly having a hard time finding credible opponents for him at 170 pounds. He was even quoted as saying he would fight Robbie Lawler -- the promotion's middleweight champion -- if that was the toughest match the organization could provide for him.
But he won't have to worry about moving up in weight in the UFC because he'll find plenty of credible opponents there. And that makes the UFC the perfect landing spot for a fighter trying to prove himself as the best in the world.
Obviously there are plenty of behind the scenes details that Jake and his management team have to work out with Zuffa before we see him in the Octagon, but as the statement says, "It's a real possibility."
Let's hope it becomes a reality, not only for Jake, but for some of the other top fighters formerly under contract with Pro Elite. Hopefully this will start a trend.