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UFC 121 Preview: Strikeforce Champion Jake Shields Makes UFC Debut Against Martin Kampmann

Shields_vs_kampmann_mediumIn the second UFC welterweight contest of the evening, recent UFC signee and the SBN/USAT #4 ranked middleweight in the world Jake Shields (25-4-1, 0-0 UFC) will make his first appearance in the Octagon as he sets his eyes on proving he's the best welterweight fighter in the world. His opponent, the well-rounded Danish "Hitman" Martin Kampmann (17-3, 8-2 UFC), will be the first in a long line of fighters hoping to prove the UFC already has the best fighters. Can he prevail or is Shields on the verge of breaking out as the next potential contender in the division?

Most signs are pointing to Shields prevailing, and it isn't hard to see why. In his last four fights, he defeated Dan Henderson, Paul Daley, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, and Robbie Lawler, all names that have had a considerably amount of success in this sport and in the UFC at one point in time. Kampmann, on the other hand, has been battling it out in the Octagon since 2006, and he's been able to put together a solid record of 3-1 in his last 4 fights with notable wins over Carlos Condit and Paulo Thiago. Not as impressive as Shields, but notable wins nonetheless.

Considered to be one of the most successful one-dimensional fighters in today's era, Shields is the favorite on the ground for obvious reasons. He has a dynamite one-two punch of solid wrestling and black belt level Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills, and he's one of the few fighters in the sport who has been able to use both effectively together in the cage. While he has received criticism in the past for moving to dominant positions and doing minimal damage, Shields is still able to gain those positions relatively quickly. That type of offensive ability could make Kampmann's chances of victory minuscule at best.

But the typical storyline for any fight involving Jake Shields is that his opponent will have a striking advantage. Unfortunately, Shields is one of the best in the world at avoiding damage on the feet and bringing fights into his world on the floor. While Kampmann has been gutsy in battles with opponents who can grapple, it's tough to find anyone on Kampmann's record that's had the success that Shields has had.

Initially, I was leaning toward Martin Kampmann putting on a gutsy performance and stifling Shields' attempts at a ground war, but it's tough to ignore all of the heavy-handed strikers and tough as nails wrestlers that Shields has dominated in the past. What separates those fighters in a comparison with Kampmann? Not a whole lot. Kampmann might be one of the more well-rounded fighters among Shields' list of opponents in recent years, but Shields has dominated a number of solid competitors. That feat is just too hard to ignore. I'll take Jake Shields via decision.


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