Jake Shields was riding high on a six-year, fifteen-fight winning streak last April ahead of his UFC welterweight title fight against Georges St-Pierre. Fast forward to the present — close to a year after he challenged St-Pierre for the belt — and things are going a little differently for the Cesar Gracie Fight Team member.
Shields, although he offered a more spirited opposition than many of the champ’s recent opponents, couldn’t quite edge St-Pierre and took home a unanimous decision loss. He then signed to face surging prospect Jake Ellenberger, lost his father/manager during training for that fight and eventually lost the fight via first round knockout.
Certainly not an enviable run of fortune for Shields, but one that the 33-year-old is looking to turn around when he takes on Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 tomorrow night.
“Dealing with the losses was tough, but that’s behind me,” Shields said in a recent interview with MMATraining. “I am feeling really good now and I’m putting all of my focus on this fight in front of me. After winning so many fights and not losing for all those years it was a bit difficult at first, but I’ve had an awesome training camp and things are going really good for me. 2011 is over and I’m ready to have a great 2012.
“As far as the Ellenberger fight is concerned, obviously there were a lot of difficult things going on in my life, but I have no excuses,” he went on. “It’s simple, I lost the fight, and I wish the outcome was different, but it is what it is. I made the decision to go through with the fight and I have to live with the outcome.”
Shields will be fighting a debuting welterweight in Akiyama, but one that he believes has the skills to become a top contender in the division if he can manage the weight cut. Regardless of the respect that he has for his opponent, Shields is looking to remind the world why he went undefeated for so long.
“I’m ready to show my fans the best Jake Shields ever come this Saturday night,” he said. “I have had a great training camp, I feel incredible and I just want to show everyone that I still belong at the top. I want to prove that I am still among the best of the best. This is going to be a fantastic fight between two fighters needing a win. I’m prepared to go out there and show why I’ve been as successful as I have been throughout the years.”
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson goes down tomorrow night from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. FightLine will post ongoing, round-by-round coverage of the event tomorrow night, so make sure to check back.