Two ex-Strikeforce guys will headline the UFC 161 preliminary card tonight in Winnipeg as Jake Shields (27-6-1, 1 NC MMA; 2-2, 1 NC UFC) battles Tyron Woodley (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Shields is in desperation mode after a thoroughly uninspiring run in his time with the promotion, while Woodley is trying to move to 2-0 in his UFC career.
It's a return to welterweight for Shields after a brief stop at middleweight. Woodley pulled off one of the surprises of the night at UFC 156 when he scored just his 2nd KO win in 11 victories, and knocking out Shields would really raise some eyebrows. The UFC 161 preliminary card on FX airs live at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT and leads into the PPV main card at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
How do these two stack up?
Shields: 34 years old | 6'0" | 72" reach
Woodley: 31 years old | 5'9" | 74" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Shields has been labeled as one of the biggest "busts" in UFC history. Having won titles at 170 lbs in EliteXC and 185 lbs in Strikeforce, Shields debuted in the UFC as a welterweight. He sluggishly defeated Martin Kampmann at UFC 121, and predictably lost to Georges St. Pierre after earning his title shot. In September 2011 he suffered a stunning TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger in less than a minute, marking only the 2nd time he'd ever been stopped. Shields returned to the win column with a decision over the incomparable "Sexyama" in Japan, but his latest win against Ed Herman (at middleweight) was overturned due to a failed drug test. He's off of his six month suspension and back at 170 lbs for tonight's important clash with Woodley.
Woodley made a major splash in his UFC debut at UFC 156 in Las Vegas. Having replaced the injured Erick Silva, Woodley pulverized Jay Hieron with a big right hand and ended the fight in just 40 seconds. The Missouri native had lost to Nate Marquardt by 4th round KO for the vacant Strikeforce welterweight title in July 2012. Woodley's style is tailored towards his grinding wrestling, but with improved striking he could see himself near the top of the UFC welterweight chain as he develops his game. A win over Shields would be the biggest name on his resume.
Why should you care?
This fight is a good way to measure where both men are at this stage in their respective careers. Shields has seemingly fallen off from his EliteXC and Strikeforce days while Woodley is still a prospect trying to shake off his "boring" tag and insert his name into the long list of talented welterweights.