Strikeforce’s “Lawler vs. Shields” event was one of the most star-studded in the organization’s brief history. No star shined brighter than former EliteXC 170-pound champ Jake Shields, as he treated 8,867 screaming fans to a clinic on sinking nasty guillotine chokes.
Although Shields was riding an 11-fight win streak heading into his fight against former EliteXC middleweight king Robbie Lawler, many continued to question his ability to compete against the world’s greatest strikers.
He may not have done much to deter his haters on that tip, but he more than made up for it with his ridiculous Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. He caught Lawler overexerting himself and was able to lock in an arm-in guillotine choke, which left Lawler with the difficult decision of either tapping or sleeping.
“I got a chance to get on his neck, and once I got it, I wasn’t letting go,” Shields stated about his submission attempt during his post-fight interview.
While still inside the choke, Lawler went Ultimate Warrior as he picked the lighter welterweight up as he continued his escape attempt. After a valiant effort, Lawler finally gave in just 2:02 of round 1.
“I first felt Robbie’s strength, and I was like, ‘Oh, man, moving up a weight,’” Shields said. “I definitely felt the strength difference. But then I settled a little bit, got on my game, started getting comfortable on my feet, and I just got a chance to get on his neck. Once I got it, I wasn’t letting go.”
After finally earning his first major professional title, EliteXC immediately went belly-up and his rights were traded to his current employer. The only downer was Strikeforce has never had a welterweight title, which prompted this 182 lb. catch-weight bout.
After the bout, he wasn’t asking Strikeforce to create a 170-pound title. Instead, he called out his “friend” and current Strikeforce middleweight champion, Cung Le.
Le captured the Strikeforce 185-pound crown after he dismantled Frank Shamrock in March of 2008. Since bumping his record up to a perfect 6-0, Le hit the movie sets and hasn’t been seen inside a cage since.
“I want the title,” Shields emphatically demanded. “Cung Le’s a good friend of mine, but I think Cung, you either got to give me that belt or you have to step up and fight me. You’re a great friend of mine, but that belt, I want it.”
Although Shields put Le and his title on blast, he certainly has a point. In fact, he is seconding a point that was already made by fellow middleweight Scott Smith. The classy, yet competitive, Smith simply stated that Strikeforce has three choices to make if they want to keep the division’s top contenders happy.
Make Le fight, produce an interim title or Le gets stripped. The latter being the most unlikely as Le has always been a great Strikeforce employee since day one.
However, Strikeforce knew going into their “Lawler vs. Shields” event that they would have to provide answers as to what’s next in their middleweight division.
Shields appears to be the first in line, now it’s not up to Strikeforce to decide on how long he waits.