Riding a 14-fight win streak into his highly anticipated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut, which included dominant stints under the Elite XC and Strikeforce Banner, Jake Shields' time in the worlds preeminent mixed martial arts (MMA) organization, thus far, has been a rough one to say the least.
After narrowly escaping his debut against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121 with a razor-thin split decision victory, Shields dropped his following two bouts to UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and current top contender, Jake Ellenberger.
Prior to entering his fight with Ellenberger, Shields suffered a personal tragedy, as his father suddenly passed away. A distraught and mourning Shields, showing great composure and fortitude, chose to not drop out of his headlining bought against Ellenberger. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black-belt was eventually knocked out by "The Juggernaut" in the opening minute of the first round, the first time in 11 years that he had been finished in a fight.
It may have been rough rolling in 2011 but the former multi-division champion is ready to get back on the hog and ride in 2012.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, Shields discusses the hardships he went through the past 10 months, including the tough decision to fight two weeks after his fathers passing, as well as the current state of the UFC's 170-pound division.
"No, I don't know, maybe it would have been better to pull out, but you never know how those things are going to go, and at the time I did what I had to do, and I did it. I can't look back and wish I hadn't have done it. Unfortunately, things didn't go my way. I got caught with a knee, that was unfortunate. That was a tough time for me between losing my dad and then that, I wasn't feeling too great after that. I feel a lot better. I'm ready to bounce back and have a good year in 2012."
Shields also hopes to one day face the current UFC interim Welterweight Champion, Carlos Condit, to exact some revenge for his good friend and training partner, Nick Diaz, whom Condit defeated to earn the title at UFC 143:
"I feel like welterweight is really shook up right now for title contention. It's up for grabs for anyone really. With (Jon) Fitch losing, (Josh) Koscheck's last fight not being the most spectacular; the title's up for grabs right now. He (Condit) was calling me out last year, so I would love to fight him. He has the belt now. I mean GSP's still the true champ, but if there's time to get a fight in, I would love to be the guy to go out there and put on a great win and jump in there. Especially, like I said I beat him before, he just had that controversial win over my teammate. It's someone I'd love to go back and get some payback for Nick."
Condit and Shields originally squared off in 2006 in the finals of the Rumble on the Rock 9 Welterweight Tournament. Shields did enough to outwork "The Natural Born Killer" to earn a unanimous decision victory.
Now, six months removed from his second consecutive loss, Jake looks to right his ship this weekend (Feb. 25, 2012) in Japan at UFC 144, as he takes on Yoshihiro Akiyama, who looks to end his own three-fight skid in his UFC middleweight debut.
What do you say, Maniacs, will Shields return to his winning ways and spoil Akiyama's return to Japan in the process? Or will it be "Sexyama" that reverses his own fortunes this weekend?