UFC welterweight contender Jake Shields has had a rough month.
Shields’ father, Jack, passed away at the end of August, leaving a huge void in his life – both professionally and away from the cage.
Shields, though, has vowed to fight on, keeping his planned main event match with Jake Ellenberger for the September 17 UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger card.
Recently, Shields (26-5) talked about losing his father, facing Ellenberger and the Nick Diaz-UFC situation that had the full-attention of the MMA world last week.
“It has been a difficult time,” Shields said. “I was really close (to my father). We talked every day leading up to the fight. I lost my father and my manager.”
The first few days following the passing of Jack, Shields said he only thought about pulling out of the Ellenberger fight for a few minutes, before deciding that was not the right approach.
“Training hasn’t been tougher, it’s been an outlet and giving me something to focus on,” said Shields, who lost his last bout in the UFC to champion Georges St-Pierre for the title. “He would want me to move forward, and I know he would want me to fight.
After the loss to GSP, Shields made a push to face either B.J. Penn or Jon Fitch in his next bout inside the Octagon. Instead, he was paired with Ellenberger, who is more of a rising prospect than a mainstream star at this point in his career.
As for the Diaz situation, which saw him be removed from a title fight with St-Pierre and instead be put in the catch with Penn, Shields has vowed to remain loyal to his teammate.
“I really wanted to see that fight (GSP-Diaz),” Shields said. “As for what happened, I don’t really have an opinion on it. Nick is my good friend and I am always going to back him up. I don’t know the details.
“I am very happy about the Penn fight, though, because I thought (Diaz) would get dropped. It is a great fight as well. I think Nick has too high of pace for B.J. and think he’ll beat him.”
UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger takes place this coming Saturday from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.