Plenty of people would argue that Woodley actually deserved the judges’ decision when he and Shields squared off earlier this year. While a case can definitely be made, Shields still walked away with the win and it couldn’t have occurred at a much better time, as the 34-year old was coming off a suspension for using a banned substance and was 1-2 in three tilts leading up to his match-up. Also worth mentioning, Shields ate a few shots including a Spinning Backfist that would have sent lots of opponents to the mat, showing he’s not just slick on the ground but pretty damn tough as well. Shields’ showdown with Condit went down more than five years after making his professional debut and wasn’t a work of art by any means. However, what makes the victory especially notable is not just the fact he was able to outpoint a gamer like Condit but the instance of success came hours after Shields had brought home a decision nod against Yushin Okami. To beat opponents with the skill-level of Condit and Okami is impressive in itself. To do so on the same night is downright amazing! Sakurai’s heyday has come and gone but there was a solid chunk of time where “Mach” stood as one of the best welterweights in the sport. The less-seasoned Shields was able to out-grapple him when the two faced off in Japan, picking up a much-needed win after having lost a decision in his previous pairing. Sakurai represents the first “big name” opponent to come up short against Shields’ skill-set though obviously not the last. Shields entered his clash with Kampmann with fourteen consecutive wins behind him and a much-anticipated outing against divisional king Georges St-Pierre on the line. Kampmann, a fine grappler in his own right with solid striking, gave Shields all he could handle in the bout and nearly welcomed his opponent to the Octagon by handing him a loss in his debut. Still, Shields’ takedowns and top control came through again, and he found a way to narrowly beat “The Hitman”. Shields would go on to face GSP at UFC 129 to help draw what still stands as the largest MMA crowd in North American history. When the match-up was first announced, it seemed Shields had little if any chance of winning considering Henderson’s past success against foes like Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, Renato Sobral, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Of course, there’s a reason fights actually unfold instead of paperwork producing the victor, and Shields shocked the world by overcoming an early assault to ultimately outpoint Henderson, taking the seasoned wrestler down with relative ease and peppered with punches from above. Like so many of Shields’ successes, the outcome wasn’t pretty but he still exited the affair with his hand hoisted in the air.
In less than a week
UFC welterweight Jake Shields will head into hostile territory in hopes of taking out fellow submission-specialist Demian Maia at . Though Maia is a gifted grappler and the Brazilian crowd will be heavily biased in his favor, fans shouldn’t expect Shields to be fazed in the least bit based on the number of marquee match-ups he’s encountered in his career. And, as his record shows, the former UFC Fight Night 29 Strikeforce champion tends to come out on top more often than not regardless of the situation. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images)