What much of the MMA community considered inevitable has finally happened. Strikeforce has released their Middleweight champion after a long and frustrating bidding process to try to keep him signed to the promotion. Jake Shields and the organization finally severed ties officially yesterday after Scott Coker and his former champ couldn't bridge the gap in terms of a salary. Shields was officially a free agent after his last title defense against Dan Henderson in April, but Strikeforce had the option to match offers made from other promotions. Seeing as getting into a bidding war with Zuffa would likely lead to somewhat a public humiliation, Strikeforce just saved themselves the trouble and cut him.
Prior to news of the release, Jack Shields told Sherdog.com that he submitted the fighter's asking price to the UFC on Wednesday and was awaiting an initial bid from the rival promotion to pass onto Strikeforce for review. The elder Shields said he submitted figures for a series of bouts he thought requisite if his son fought the top contenders in both the UFC's welterweight and middleweight divisions.
Shields said his son would like to debut as a UFC middleweight, possibly against champion Anderson Silva, as welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will be tied up with "The Ultimate Fighter" reality TV series and a pending bout with rival coach Josh Koscheck later this year.
"We didn't come to agreement with Strikeforce, but Jake's excited to challenge himself against the likes of Anderson Silva and others in the UFC," said Shields.
George St. Pierre is tied up until 2011. Between his commitment to be a coach on the next season of TUF and presumably fighting the winner of the Fitch/Alves rematch, Shields would have to wait quite some time before getting a chance at the welterweight strap. He actually has a much more clear cut path at Anderson Silva, considering the utter lack of top-flight contenders in the UFC's 185lb division. The UFC needs to capitalize on Shields' star power relatively soon, especially if they just gave him a fat contract. Silva doesn't have a fight booked after Chael Sonnen, which is only a month away. If Vitor Belfort isn't ready to go until early next year, the UFC could easily use Shields. Maybe even have him fight on Spike as a way to pay fans back for Silva's performance at UFC 112. Silva gets a top middleweight to fight, and a loss to the champ wouldn't take too much wind out of Shields' sails. With Shields being somewhat of a tweener, he can always just drop back down to 170 for whenever GSP starts taking appointments again. This way he conceivably gets a shot at both Silva and St. Pierre without having to spend months or years in limbo waiting for his turn.