After a successful but challenging welterweight campaign, Jake Shields is returning to the middleweight division. Shields, who challenged for the UFC welterweight belt against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129, will return to the division for the first time since defending the Strikeforce middleweight belt against Dan Henderson in 2010.
Shields (27-6-1), who last fought and won at UFC 144 in February, actually debated returning to middleweight following his loss to Jake Ellenberger last September. After his first TKO loss in over ten years, Shields debated returning to the division that gave him his most recent success, along with allowing him to not have to cut so much weight prior to the fight. However, Shields remained at 170 pounds, and defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama, who was making his welterweight debut. Now, even after that win, Shields is still returning to the more desirable division.
Fuel TV’s “UFC Tonight” first reported the move, specifically referencing Shields’ desire to have the pre-fight weight cut take less of a toll on his body.
The former Strikeforce middleweight champion and EliteXC welterweight champion enjoyed a 14-fight win streak from 2005 to 2010 in both organizations, including a 2-0 record at middleweight. Shields won the Strikeforce middleweight title after defeating Jason “Mayhem” Miller via unanimous decision in November 2009. He then defended his crown against Dan Henderson in April 2010, upsetting the MMA legend by decision. After being knocked down in the first round, Shields recovered and went on to dominate the former Pride champion the remaining four rounds.
While an opponent was not announced, Shields is expected to return to action in August. As of now, just one event has been announced for August, UFC on Fox 4 on August 4th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.