The announcement was made tonight (March 27, 2012) on FUEL TV's "UFC Tonight" weekly broadcast. No potential opponent for Shields was announced nor is known at this time.
Shields, who is coming off a unanimous decision win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 on Feb. 25, 2012, has spent time at both welterweight and middleweight over the course of his 34-fight professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
According to the report, Shields feels healthier at 185 pounds, revealing that the weight cut down to 170 pounds is just too much for him. The plan, reportedly, is for Shields -- who is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion -- to add more muscle to his frame, and then return to the Octagon in late summer (either July or August 2012).
UFC.com had the following official press release on Shields' return to the 185-pound division:
"The Californian is no stranger to middleweight though, having won a Strikeforce title there, and among his victims in the division are Dan Henderson Jason Miller, and Robbie Lawler. Shields is coming off a UFC 144 win over Yoshihiro Akiyama in February."
Since Shields debuted for the UFC in Oct. 2010, the Cesar Gracie team member (and "Scrap Pack" alum) has gone 2-2, notching victories over the aforementioned Akiyama and Martin Kampmann, while suffering defeat at the hands of Jake Ellenberger and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. While he did lose to "GSP," many considered it to be the closest anyone has fought the Canadian juggernaut in a very long time.
Nonetheless, the switch presents an interesting opportunity for a rematch between Shields and Dan Henderson, who lost to Shields while both fighters fought under the Strikeforce banner. "Hendo" had recently commented on his dissatisfaction with the UFC's decision to give Rashad Evans the next crack at Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones' belt at UFC 145 on Apr. 21, 2012, expressing that he believes himself to be a more worthy contender.
Perhaps he'll be interested in a exacting revenge.
Even if he is not, there are certainly plenty of other intriguing match ups for Shields at 185 pounds. And, of course, there is always "Mayhem," who nearly scored a submission victory over Shields and then almost got killed in the cage requesting a rematch.