At UFC Fight Night 25 on Sept. 17 in New Orleans, Jake Shields will fight a man, Jake Ellenberger, he "doesn't know too much about, but I do hear he's tough."
That might seem harsh but there is a reason Shields has never even seen one of his upcoming opponents fights: he's simply had his eyes on the bigger fish in the welterweight pond.
He even had a date picked out -- UFC 139 on Nov. 19 in San Jose, California. It's a time and place that would work wonderfully for Fitch, who expects to return from his shoulder injury around then and trains out of American Kickboxing Academy, which is conveniently located right there in "Shark City."
But when matchmaker Joe Silva came calling, he had a "Juggernaut" in mind. His pitch involved Shields main eventing a heavily promoted event on Spike TV. As the former top contender tells MMA Weekly, that was enough to sell him:
"I fight whoever they tell me, but when they asked me (to fight) Ellenberger, my first reaction was I want to fight someone like B.J. or Fitch. But they wanted me to fight Ellenberger and it was a main event. I'm willing to fight whoever they want. I'm not one to say no, especially if it's a main event. So I said, ‘sure, I'll do it.' But I was hoping to fight Fitch on the San Jose card. I didn't ask too many questions. I just asked, ‘you know, what about Fitch?' And they sounded like they were kind of set. Just being in a main event is a big thing. If I were to sit there to complain about that, I'd be an idiot."
Shields and Fitch have met once before, in a submission grappling match back in 2005, which was won by the former. They've both been nothing short of impossible to defeat in mixed martial arts competition since then, with both only suffering losses at the hands of Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre.
Naturally, then, it would make sense to let them meet in the center of the Octagon to square off and see who really is the better man.
That could still very well happen. But Shields will have to get past Ellenberger first, a tough as nails wrestler with big power and a growing reputation as one of the nastiest 170-pound beasts in the land.
If he does win in Sept., anyone think the UFC needs to set up Shields vs. Fitch, maybe even for a number one contender spot and a potential rematch against St. Pierre? Or is that a bad idea?