With all the debate surrounding potential replacement opponents for Fedor Emelianenko over the last two days, and particularly with much of the debate centered on Vitor Belfort, little attention has been paid to Belfort's originally-scheduled opponent, Jorge Santiago. As Kid Nate pointed out earlier today, Michael David Smith at FanHouse posted a great article discussing how Santiago is essentially getting screwed if the Belfort-Fedor fight happens.
Now, things might be looking up for Jorge even if Belfort is no longer an option, as the folks over at MMATraining.com have gotten word that Affliction is trying to secure the services of Strikeforce fighter Jake Shields, to step for Belfort on short-notice and face Santiago:
MMATraining.com has learned from sources close to Affliction that Jake Shields may be stepping in for Vitor Belfort to take on Jorge Santiago at Affliction 3. MMATraining.com must inform our readers that this is not final and we cannot confirm this. We don’t want any lawsuits on our hands after yesterday.
Again, this is just a rumor, and there have certainly been plenty of those in the last 48 hours that haven't panned out. But if this does prove to be true, Shields would provice an excellent replacement opponent for Santiago, although one with a very different style. Shields has been a top-ten welterweight for some time, having not lost since 2004 and with eight consecutive first or second-round stoppages in his last eight fights, but with little competition left for him at 170 lbs outside of the UFC, Shields has made it clear that he wishes to fight at middleweight in Strikeforce for the time being. He made his first step towards achieving that goal when he submitted the dangerous Robbie Lawler at a catchweight of 182 lbs back in June.
Although Shields has traditionally used his outstanding submission skills to dominate more striking-oriented opponents, he has faced equally solid grapplers in the past (Carlos Condit, Mike Pyle) and still pulled out victories. Santiago is a legitimate black belt in BJJ and would not necessarily get dominated by Shields on the ground if this fight occurs. Furthermore, the Brazilian is a far more skilled striker than the American, and would likely use his grappling defensively to force Shields to stay standing where Santiago might be able to pick him apart.
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