I've noticed quite a bit of bellyaching over the UFC's signing of Jake Shields - particularly over the question of how "marketable" he is.
Remember one thing - Strikeforce does not tell stories. Strikeforce relies on name veterans instead of making investments to build up fresh fighters.
On the other hand, the UFC is very, very good at building up new talent. The UFC uses TUF to build name recognition for young guys and their coaches, and the Countdown/Primetime shows to give in-depth, pseudo-behind the scenes looks at fighters.
So let's ask the question - what can the UFC do with Jake Shields?
Well, let's see.
Let's start out by looking at this picture:
He's a pretty good-looking guy.
Jake's a single dad, which automatically gives him a compelling back story. It worked with Houston Alexander, single father to six kids, and it will work with Jake Shields.
I don't care about how Jake Shields became a single Dad. Did the Mom die? Did he dump her for cheating on him? Was she just some fat chick he met at a bar? Did she dump him after he couldn't fulfill her emotional needs?
The story of Jake Shields is going to be an interesting story no matter what. And most importantly - the UFC will actually tell that story. That's a sharp contrast to Strikeforce, which would rather run promos of Frank Shamrock churning out half-baked philosophical nuggets about the beauty of the sport.
So Jake Shields is a handsome single dad who dropped out of college to pursue fighting to provide a better life for his daughter - sounds like a pretty f*cking marketable story to me!
And oh yeah, Jake Shields can fight.
He laid a beating down on Dan Henderson, who held titles in two weight classes in Pride. Former UFC LHW champion didn't dominate Dan the way Jake did. And Jake's a natural welterweight.
On the Countdown show you'll see highlights of Hendo delivering KO's to Wanderlei and Bisping. Then they'll cut to Dana White and Joe Rogan talking about how Jake took Hendo's best punch and still went on to dominate.
Jake has also finished 8 of his past 10 fights (Jake is on a 14-fight winning streak, beating some very tough bigger guys), the two survivors being the aforementioned Henderson (who is very tough and durable), and Jason "Mayhem" Miller. If Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, one of the best grapplers in history and a top middleweight prospect couldn't sub Miller, then we can't knock Jake for failing to finish.
Who else has Jake beaten? Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Mike Pyle, Renato Verissimo, Dave Menne, and Mach Sakurai, among many others. Jake also defeated Yushin Okami and Carlos Condit in the same night.
So add it up.
The UFC needs new competitors for Georges St. Pierre and a handsome single Dad that can kick some ass just might fit the Zuffa marketing department's needs.