Is Jake Shields UFC bound after April 17th?
Gegard Mousasi, who becomes a free agent after the April 17 CBS show, seems likely to sign a new contract and will balance fights between Strikeforce and DREAM. But unlike his fellow Strikeforce champion, Jake Shields isn't bound under a 'Championship Clause' and will be keeping his options open regardless of the outcome of his title fight against Dan Henderson:
"I am happy with Strikeforce. They've given me big fights like I asked for, so I'm happy with them. But also, I do want big fights, and of course the UFC has a lot of big fights as well."
"I wanted to be a free agent, I haven't been a free agent in a couple of years, and I wanted the option of leaving Strikeforce. Not that I'm leaving Strikeforce; I just wanted the option... Right now, I can't really talk to other shows. It's in the contract. You can't talk any business. So I just want to be in a situation where I can look at my options and figure it out from there."
"I like Strikeforce, so as long as it's a good offer, and it looks like they're going to get some good opponents – I also want to fight top competition, so it's the combination of pay, exposure, and top competition. Those are the three things I'll make my decision off of."
Shields, who has openly said that he wanted a shot at UFC champ, Georges St. Pierre, says that money, exposure, and top competition will be the deciding factor. Sounds like the UFC would be a perfect fit.
Michael David Smith makes the case for it:
Shields is driven by the challenge of pushing himself in the cage, which is a big part of the reason that he's now fighting at middleweight. Other than his friend and training partner Nick Diaz, Strikeforce really doesn't have any welterweights who could challenge Shields. And for that matter, after Dan Henderson -- who will fight Shields in the main event of the April 17 CBS show -- Strikeforce really doesn't have any middleweights who are big challenges to Shields either.
In the UFC, Shields could find all kinds of challenging opponents. I'm sure he'd move back down to welterweight if he fought in the Octagon, and he'd get a top-notch opponent like Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves or Josh Koscheck right away. A win against one of those guys would likely lead to a title shot against Georges St. Pierre.
The UFC doesn't just have big fights, it has the biggest fights in the sport. With White already on the record as an admirer of Shields' talents, and with Shields hoping to test himself against the best, it makes a lot of sense for the Henderson bout to be Shields' last in Strikeforce, and for his next fight to be in the UFC.