Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields has officially signed with the UFC and will return to the welterweight division to make his UFC debut against a 170-pound contender, Shields’ trainer, Cesar Gracie, announced today GracieFighter.com.
After winning and defending the welterweight title in EliteXC, Shields (25-4-1) was picked up by Strikeforce in 2009 and stopped middleweight contender Robbie Lawler in his Strikeforce debut last June.
Shields won the vacant 185-pound title with a unanimous decision over Jason “Mayhem” Miller in November, then topped UFC veteran Dan Henderson in April for his 14th-straight win.
Because his contract lacked a ‘champion’s clause’ that would have kept him with Strikeforce, Shields became a free agent following his win over Henderson and the UFC immediately emerged as the front-runner to sign him.
Details on Shields’ UFC debut are expected to be announced soon, with potential opponents likely including Martin Kampmann, who defeated Paulo Thiago in June, or the winner of a UFC 117 bout between contenders Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves.