Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields will make his long-awaited UFC debut this Saturday night at UFC 121 in Anaheim, California against talented Xtreme Couture team member Martin Kampmann. Shields, who holds a stellar record against top competition, explained on a recent episode of Pro MMA Radio that he will be fighting for respect and due recognition this weekend; and though he acknowledged Kampmann’s immense and dangerous skill set he said that he he will still be looking for a spectacular finish Saturday night.
“It’s really frustrating because I’ve beaten all these top fighters and pretty much got no recognition for it,” the former Shooto and EliteXC champion said. “Even before the [Dan] Henderson fight I was a 4 to 1 underdog even though I’ve beaten pretty even competition to him. It feels nice to finally get a little respect, especially now coming into the UFC.”
A Cesar Gracie fight team standout, Shields knows that he is going to have his hands full come Saturday night and that looking past Martin Kampmann would be a mistake.
“I think he’s a great fighter,” said Shields. “He keeps a really good distance. He circles really good, stays out of range so it’s hard to shoot on him because he knows how to stay out of that punching range by using punches. Punches and kicks, great sprawl, good takedowns, great guillotine. He’s a really dangerous guy… I’m certainly not overlooking him, he’s a true challenge for me.”
Shields is currently on the short list of possible welterweight contenders and it is being widely speculated that a win over Kampmann could propel him into the next title shot. This fact isn’t lost on Shields, but the Californian still doesn’t plan on playing it safe Saturday night.
“I don’t wanna go out there and squeak out a decision,” he said. “I gotta go out there and win, try to finish him and make it exciting. It’s my UFC debut, I need to make fans, I need to make Dana say, ‘Yeah he deserves a title shot.'”