On that night, in front of a record crowd of 55,000-plus at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Shields suffered an agonizing unanimous decision defeat at the hands of the French-Canadian powerhouse.
It marked Shields’ most lucrative payday and undoubtedly gained him a boatload of supporters (as he won two rounds according to judges at cageside). With that said, spirited performance or not, it was a loss nonetheless.
After the St-Pierre loss, Shields would go on to face perennial Top 10 welterweight and human wrecking ball Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger at a UFC Fight Night in September of that same year.
Shields, who lost his father and confidant, Jack, just days before the Ellenberger fight, stepped into the cage that night in Louisiana despite any emotional issues that he may have been dealing with during such a tragic point in his life. And unfortunately for Shields, it showed, as Ellenberger knocked him out just 53 seconds into the opening round.
Since that time, Shields has managed three quality wins (and one victory over Ed Herman that was ruled a no-contest due to a failed post-fight drug test by Shields) with the most recent being a hard-fought, split-decision victory over BJJ ace Demian Maia at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
With the win, not only did Shields put himself back near the top the welterweight pecking order, he also engaged in a fight so rugged that he likened it to his classic scraps with GSP and his Strikeforce title bout with MMA legend Dan Henderson.
At the post-fight press conference inside the Ginasio Poliesportivo Jose Correa, Shields made it quite clear what he envisions for his career path going forward.
“I think it puts me really high back up,” said Shields in regards to the victory over the highly touted Brazilian.
“Demian Maia was ranked number four in the world (and was on) a four-fight win streak. I already have wins over Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, top contenders. So I want another shot at GSP,” stated the Cesar Gracie black belt matter-of-factly.
And if St-Pierre is busy, or the UFC deems Shields unworthy, that’s fine with the 34-year-old former Strikeforce middleweight champion. As far as he’s concerned, fighting top contenders is the name of the game. After all, he’s been doing that his entire career.
“Whether I have to fight Rory MacDonald, Carlos Condit, any of the top contenders, I just want to fight people at the top right now.”
With wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama, Tyron Woodley and, now, Demian Maia, it is not out of the realm of reason for Shields to assume a title shot may lie somewhere on the horizon. However, given the murderer’s row of 1700-pounders that currently reside in the UFC, the road back to GSP will surely be paved with plenty of blood, sweat, and tears. If Shields ever hopes to taste the possibility of UFC gold again, the coming months could be brutal.
But then again, Jake Shields has made a career of battling in long, drawn out, intense scraps with the world’s best.
(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)
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