Jumping Ship: Jake Shields' Watershed Moment

August 8, 2010

In sports, as in literature, there are moments in time that will forever change the course of action heretofore.  Darth Vader revealing that he is Luke Skywalker's father, Vince McMahon purchasing WCW, and realizing that you are Tyler Durden are all examples of watershed moments. Star Wars, Pro Wrestling, and your life were never the same since.  Moments like these marked the beginning of something previously unfamiliar, something new, something bold. Recently, the mixed martial arts community has seen Jake Shields (24-5-1) jump ship.  The Top-10 lists and Pound for Pound lists are about to be shaken up like James Bond's martini. Amidst the hype and media frenzy buzzing about, remember that to change and change for the better are two different things.

The first and last EliteXC Welterweight Champion and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion has agreed in principle to fight for Zuffa under the UFC banner in the Welterweight Division. Shields was a free agent from Strikeforce when his contract was up and it didn't look like he wanted to stay. I'm sure being videotaped sitting cage side with UFC President Dana White, who by the way was mouthing, "He's mine." had nothing to do with it.  Nevertheless, look back just a few months ago, the writing was already on the wall.  You've seen the commercials for Jake's fight against former PRIDE and UFC champion Dan "Hendo" Henderson. Coker and company did everything in their power to capitalize on another big name fighter who was in his debut after jumping ship from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. While doing so, they offended and swept under the rug their crown jewel, Middleweight champion Jake Shields. Strikeforce never planned to go to war with Dana, which was quite evident by the way they treated their champ.

The desire to fight and beat the best fighters this world has to offer is admirable. The grass may be greener, but is decidedly tougher to mow. You will find the majority of Top 10 fighters under contract with Zuffa. It made perfect sense for Jake Shields to sign.  The publicity and exposure that the Fertitas can provide are invaluable. If he can continue his 14 fight win streak he'll be in contention for GSP's belt.  Not the one with the rhinestones, the other one. Can he match GSP's wrestling and test him like no other has before? Can he get a 'W' over St. Pierre and cement his legacy as one of the best fighters to ever step foot inside the Octagon? 5 years from now, we may look back on this moment as the one that changed the UFC Welterweight division forever.

Originally posted on the FightLaunch.com MMA Blog.