The rumors and speculation that Jake Shields would not be joining many of EliteXC’s other top fighters in Strikeforce following the latter promotion’s acquisition of select assets from ProElite can come to an end.
According a published report, Shields has agreed to fight former UFC veteran Joe Riggs in a welterweight matchup to be contested during Strikeforce’s April 11 event in San Jose that is to be telecast on Showtime.
The news was first reported by AroundTheOctagon.com and since has been confirmed independently by FiveOuncesOfPain.com.
Soon after news spread of Strikeforce’s deal with ProElite earlier this month there had been published reports indicating that Shields was looking to contest any possible transfer of his existing EliteXC contract over to Strikeforce’s hands. It was believed that Shields was looking to get out of his deal so that he could pursue a new contract with the UFC.
However, those reports were never confirmed by Shields or Strikeforce Founding CEO Scott Coker, who expressed surprised when recently asked about reports that Shields wasn’t on board with Strikeforce.
“Jake’s dad and I are in dialogue and I feel that the dialogue is going very well, so I am surprised to hear that,” responded Coker during a recent interview with CBSSports.com in which he was asked to respond to the reports.
The move to Strikeforce also signals that Shields will no longer continue to be recognized as EliteXC’s welterweight champion. The EliteXC name and trademark was retained by ProElite during the sale of assets to Strikeforce and as such he will not be able to represent an EliteXC belt while under exclusive control to Strikeforce. However, Strikeforce currently does not have a welterweight title and Shields will most likely be given every opportunity to compete for a championship at 170 pounds.
Rated as a top ten welterweight by major rankings polls such as WAMMA, Sherdog, and MMA Weekly, Shields has not been defeated in his last 11 fights. Once slapped with a reputation for not being a finisher, the Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt has caused early stoppages due to TKO or submission in his last seven fights.
His formal Strikeforce debut will come against a formidable opponent in Riggs, who is 29-10 overall and 4-4 in eight career fights under the UFC banner. Known for being a top performer in the gym, his talents haven’t always translated to the ring or cage as he is just 2-2 in his last four fights. However, Riggs was victorious in his last fight, a second round TKO over Luke Stewart during a Strikeforce event that took place this past November. The 26-year old also holds notable victories in his career over Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle, Kendall Grove, and Joe Doerksen.
Strikeforce’s April 11 is set to emanate from the HP Pavilion and will be headlined by former Strikeforce middleweight champion Frank Shamrock taken on Diaz at a catchweight of 179 pounds. Also confirmed for the show is a middleweight matchup between Benji Radach and Scott Smith. Coker has also gone on the record to state that he is looking to find opponents on the show for both Strikeforce lightweight champion Josh Thomson and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.