Two of the UFC’s premier grapplers collide on October 9th when Jake Shields and Demian Maia meet in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Barueri, Brazil. For Shields, it’s a chance to extend his three fight unbeaten streak and add to the following list of defining moments.
Hayato Sakurai - Shooto – December 14, 2002
Result - Shields W3
A pro for a little over three years when this fight was made, Shields had fought primarily in California, putting together a 7-3 record but not really turning any heads in the MMA world yet. That would change when he traveled to Japan and defeated Hayato “Mach” Sakurai via decision in December of 2002. How big was that win? Well, consider that of the three people Sakurai faced before Shields, two of them were named Matt Hughes and Anderson Silva.
Rumble on the Rock – April 21, 2006
Results – Shields W3 Okami, Shields W3 Condit
After the Sakurai fight, Shields would fight fairly sporadically, three times in 2003, twice in 2004, and only once in 2005. But for his second night of action in 2006, Shields would fight two times in one night for Hawaii’s Rumble on the Rock promotion. His opponents? None other than future UFC standouts Yushin Okami and Carlos Condit. Now those are two guys you wouldn’t be too thrilled about facing six months apart; to do it on the same night is a feat to be admired. And for Shields to not only face Okami and Condit, but to go the distance in each fight and win both, this may have been the night that MMA fans began to see the Californian as a real deal contender.
Robbie Lawler – Strikeforce – June 6, 2009
Result – Shields Wsub1
Getting a chance to compete for the EliteXC promotion that would soon find its way to Showtime premium cable, Shields went 4-0, defeating Renato Verissimo, Mike Pyle, Nick Thompson, and Paul Daley while grabbing the organization’s welterweight title in the process. But when the promotion went out of business, Shields moved on to Strikeforce. His first opponent? Dynamite-fisted Robbie Lawler. It was the classic striker/grappler matchup, and this time, the grappler won, with Shields needing just 2:02 to avoid Lawler’s bombs and sink in a fight-ending guillotine choke.
Dan Henderson – Strikeforce – April 17, 2010
Result – Shields W5
Moving up 15 pounds from welterweight to middleweight, Shields won the vacant Strikeforce belt at 185 pounds by decisioning Jason “Mayhem” Miller in November of 2009, and he was then tasked with beating Dan Henderson in April of 2010. Again, many felt that Hendo’s heavy hands would rule the day, but Shields took some big shots and didn’t go away, eventually taking the fight to the mat, where he put on one of his most dominant performances en route to a clear-cut five round decision victory. Shields’ next stop would be the UFC.
Martin Kampmann – UFC 121 – October 23, 2010
Result – Shields W3 (watch fight $)
Shields’ move to the UFC was one of the biggest stories of 2010, and for good reason, because several observers and pundits believed that the only one who could challenge the reign of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was Shields. But to get that shot at GSP, Shields would have to first get past Martin Kampmann. And as their three rounder proved, that was no easy task, as “The Hitman” pushed Shields to the limit for 15 minutes. When it was over, Shields picked up the split decision win and the title shot, but there were many who believed Kampmann had done enough to win.
Georges St-Pierre – UFC 129 – April 30, 2011
Result – St-Pierre W5 (watch fight $)
Before more than 55,000 fans in Toronto, which was the largest crowd in UFC history, Shields and St-Pierre finally met with UFC gold on the line, and while it wasn’t a barnburner for 25 minutes, it was an interesting tactical clash, with Shields acquitting himself well and GSP retaining his belt via scores of 50-45 and 48-47 (twice), making it one of the champion’s most narrow escapes.
Yoshihiro Akiyama - UFC 144 – February 26, 2012
Result – Shields W3 (watch fight $)
Following the defeat to St-Pierre, Shields would suffer a loss more devastating than anything he would experience in the Octagon when his father Jack passed away in August of 2011. Despite this, Shields went on with his September 2011 bout with Jake Ellenberger, getting stopped in a single round. Five months later, Shields returned and delivered perhaps his best UFC win to date, decisioning always tough Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144. The win kicked off a three fight unbeaten streak for Shields, one that he will take with him into Brazil for his meeting with Maia.