Former EliteXC Welterweight Champion and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields is set to make his UFC debut this weekend at UFC 121 against Martin Kampmann. Shields has fought some of the best in the world over two weight classes and owns one of the most impressive records in the game. Taking on top competition is nothing new to Shields, but the extra attention and obligations that come with fighting in the UFC are things that the Cesar Gracie fight team member told MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he wasn’t quite ready for.
“More media, more structure,” Sheilds said of the difference between fighting on a UFC card and a Strikeforce card. “They’re making me do a ton of stuff, that kind of sucks. There’s just a lot going on, the press conference is crazy, we’re here at the open workouts… Nothing against Strikeforce, I liked them, they were a big show but this is the big show.”
Shields was obviously in good spirits during the interview and seems genuinely excited about his coming out party on MMA’s biggest stage. Another incentive for his excitement is the fact that he will be able to use elbow strikes Saturday night, a weapon which he has not had the joy of using in some time.
“It’s really exciting,” Shields said of being allowed to use elbow strikes. “I think elbows, for my game, will be really good because I’m always in mount, side mount and sometimes it’s hard to get big punches in those positions but I’ll be able to turn over and cut with elbows. I’m definitely excited about elbows, it’s been a long time since I’ve had elbows.”
Though Shields has faced some of the best in the world and is widely regarded as a top ten pound-for-pound fighter, the California native admitted that he may feel a bit more nervous than usual under the bright lights of the big show.
“I’ll probably get a little extra nervous,” Shields said. “Of course it’s gonna be a little different walking into the UFC for the first time. I have a lot to prove but I think I’ll be alright.”
Shields and Kampmann will meet Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California in the co-main event of UFC 121. The card will be headlined by Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez, who will be duking it out in dispute of Lesnar’s heavyweight title.