Strikeforce has released their middleweight champion from the roster, a man widely considered to be among the most talented and respected fighters on the promotion’s talent pool.
The news of Shields’ dismissal from his duties as a Strikeforce athlete first came in a report from Loretta Hunt at Sherdog.com.
Shields recently toppled Dan Henderson in the last fight on his prior contract with Strikeforce which eventually left him open to discuss his future with other promotions. UFC President Dana White had openly expressed interest in signing the talented Cesar Gracie trained veteran, long recognized as one of the top fighters in the welterweight and middleweight divisions, and a war of contract offers was expected to ensue between Strikeforce and the UFC. A contract war that never happened.
Strikeforce’s recent decision to drop Shields from their roster in favor of holding a middleweight tournament to establish a new champion in the division is nearly unprecedented in the business, and sent a direct message that they will not play ball in situations such as this in the future.
“In the conversation we had today, they said they felt that Jake was leaning towards the UFC. Honestly, we were talking to them with an open mind, though Jake wants to fight the best,” said Jack Shields, the recently released champion’s manager and father. “Between Strikeforce and EliteXC, Jake had the chance to fight on Showtime and CBS four or five times against some top fighters like Dan Henderson and Robbie Lawler. Strikeforce gave him great opportunities and exposure. They’ve been nothing but great for Jake.”
The likliness of Shields winding up competing in the UFC’s welterweight or middleweight divisions in the near future appears to be an inevitability at this point.
“We didn’t come to agreement with Strikeforce, but Jake’s excited to challenge himself against the likes of Anderson Silva and others in the UFC,” said Jack Shields.