Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Former UFC title challenger Jake Shields is dropping back to the welterweight division after only one fight at middleweight and he wants big match ups right off the bat, specifically saying he would like to get his hands on former interim champ Carlos Condit or top-ranked contender Jake Ellenberger.
In recent years, Shields has gone back-and-forth fighting in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions. His most recent bout took place at 185-pounds, where he won a unanimous decision over Ed Herman at UFC 150 that was later overturned to a no contest after Shields failed his post-fight drug test.
With the suspension stemming from UFC 150 behind him, Shields is beginning to think about what the future holds, and the 34-year-old believes that after just one-fight in the UFC at middleweight, a return to 170-pounds is in his future for his next fight.
Shields explains to Bleacher Report:
"I'm hungry to fight right now, I've been training really hard. The problem is there's not a lot of opponents for me right now, but I want to fight. I'm kind of stuck waiting, but I'm hoping something pulls together quick."
"I'm always kind of stuck in the middle, it's either a big cut or I'm small at the weight, I was constantly trying to keep my weight up, I was eating all the time and lifting all the time. I never really got over 195 pounds and even then all the 170-pounders are bigger than that. Basically I got a new diet, a cleaner diet, I've got my weight back down into the high 180's."
"I made some changes, my weight came down, my cardio feels better, I feel a lot cleaner with more energy,"
The Cesar Gracie trained fighter has found success at both middleweight and welterweight throughout his career. Shields was the Strikeforce middleweight champion until he vacated the belt to move to the UFC and within two-fights of his arrival to the organization, fought Georges St. Pierre for the UFC welterweight championship.
Details on Shields' failed drug test have not been revealed by the Colorado Athletic Commission, however, it is known the suspension is for six-months and is proactive from the day of the Aug. 11, 2012, fight, meaning Shields was cleared to fight just a few days ago on Feb. 11, 2013.
Waiting patiently for the UFC to offer him a bout, Shields is not going to chase after specific opponents. He did, though, say he would be willing to fill in for any injured 170-pounders to fall of UFC 158 next month, naming former interim UFC champ Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger as two opponents he would like to mix it up with inside the Octagon.
"I'd like to fight someone tough. I'd like to fight Jake Ellenberger, that's the one loss that I felt I'd really like the chance to repeat myself on, so I'd like that. I just want to fight one of those top guys, to show that I can still beat those guys and get back into title contention."
"Carlos Condit would make a lot of sense. He's really good or (Rory) MacDonald, he's good. Just any of these guys that are good. I'm willing to fight whoever they put me against. I'm staying ready in case someone gets hurt in March I might be able to jump in and fill in for somebody. I certainly wouldn't want to wish injury upon anyone, but it's good to be ready just in case."
Shields has some history with both Condit and Ellenberger. Shields holds a victory over "The Natural Born Killer" dating back to a Rumble on the Rock tournament in 2006. Both fighters have improved tremendously since then and a rematch certainly wouldn't go the same way.
Ellenberger handed Shields a devastating loss back at UFC Fight Night 25 in September 2011 when became the first man to finish Shields with strikes in over 10 years when he ended the fight in a mere 53-seconds. It was only the second time in Shields' entire career where he has been stopped inside the distance, and it's all but certain he wants revenge.
Regardless of what comes next for Shields, the Team Cesar Gracie product knows the time on his career is running out and he wants as many lucrative match ups as possible before the end.