When Jake Shields debuted in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) against Martin Kampmann, he'd barely taken a tough decision win when fans and writers alike began speculating that the former Strikeforce champion might be better served competing at 185-pounds. Shields had a rough year in 2011, as he put up an uneventful effort in a five-round decision loss to Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, then lost his father, Jack Shields, just days prior to coming into his bout against Jake Ellenberger.
Ellenberger's one-round knockout was a shock to anyone who's watched Shields over the years, as he's proven exceptionally durable and incredibly focused in previous fights.
After taking a decision over Yoshihiro Akiyama in a comeback bout, Shields' move to 185 will be a big litmus test for him. The good news is he won't have to cut the considerable weight he did in his previous weight class. The bad news is that most middleweights are walking around north of 210-pounds instead of the 190-195 range of welterweights.
Herman's a reliable, grappling-based fighter with limited standup, so this one should definitely hit the mat at some point.
In a matchup of two grappling-reliant guys, a lot is determined by wrestling pedigree. And honestly, it's hard to tell who'll have the edge. Shields was always more of a technique-based wrestler than a pure power-double guy, a la Josh Koscheck or GSP, as he uses great setups and persistence to work a leg and eventually get a guy to the mat. Herman's strategy should be based on sprawling and brawling. He has excellent upper-body strength and years training with Team Quest have made him serviceable at dirty boxing; his standup is as limited as Shields', as neither man is much of a threat, though both protect well enough against better strikers. This bout could also see a ton of fence time as they negate one another in tie-ups and work for an advantage that isn't easily gained.
Shields very much needs a win here, especially since a return to 170 would be a long haul back to a title shot. The challenge with taking on middles is that they are considerably bigger than welters, yet Shields consistently found a way to win in Strikeforce. His decision of Dan Henderson was a masterpiece of gameplan and execution, as he survived a wild first round to rally back and run a wrestling clinic over the next four stanzas to take a career-defining win over a legend. Shields needs to force tie-ups and make Herman work - a distance boxing match will probably favor Herman - and wrest Ed to the mat at some point, where Jake's excellent jiu-jitsu can open up positions and striking opportunities. Shields has always won on consistency and keeping a cool head in chaotic situations, and he'll soldier through a few tough spots and exchanges to do just that, outworking Herman to a close decision win.
Shields via decision
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the main card action on fight night (Saturday, August 11, 2012), which is slated to air at 10 p.m. ET on PPV. The latest quick updates of the live action will begin to flow earlier than that around 8:00 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX Channel.
See you later!
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst or firstname.lastname@example.org.