Our thoughts exactly. Props: MMAMania
Coming into last night’s UFC Fight Night 25, Jake Shields was in a lose-lose situation. He was presented with an opponent, Jake Ellenberger, who was facing his first real step up in competition. A victory over him wouldn’t necessarily propel Shields back to the top of the welterweight division. If Jake Shields lost, well, Jake Shields isn’t going to lose this one so let’s not worry about it. Last night was going to be Jake Shield’s first step towards living up to the hype that surrounded him when he entered the UFC and getting back in the mix for a shot at the welterweight title. There was only one problem: That didn’t happen. In just under one minute, Jake Ellenberger practically ended the Jake Shields era.
This isn’t to say that it’s over for Jake Shields, or that he still can’t work his way back to relevance in the welterweight division. But it’s certainly over for the myth that Jake Shields is still one of the top fighters out there. Last night, Jake Shields couldn’t implement his game plan because Jake Ellenberger was able to stuff his takedown attempts. It wasn’t “What did Shields do wrong”; it was what Ellenberger did right. He was the better fighter, plain and simple. And let’s not entertain the thought of “early stoppage” any more than we had to after hearing Jake Shields imply it last night. When you take a knee directly to the chin, immediately turtle up, and then try to grapple with the referee who pulls your opponent off of you, you have no business saying that the fight was stopped early. If you didn’t think Shields was out when you first watched that fight, watch it again while you still can.
I’m really not sure what to call Court McGee’s performance last night. But I will say that the TUF 11 winner handled his eleven months away from the sport as well as possible. He stuck to his game plan against a game Dongi Yang, and managed to grind out a decision victory. McGee may not be ready for the deep end of the middleweight division yet, but he’s certainly appearing promising so far. Ed Herman is being suggested as a future opponent, and I can’t say I disagree with that. As for the other TUF winner on the card, Jonathan Brookins didn’t win, but he managed to not get knocked out against Erik Koch. Admit it: that was far more than you were expecting from him. Brookins did what he had to do to remain conscious against Koch by implementing a wall-and-stall “offense”, and secured a few takedowns in the process. An ugly way to lose, but when you’re a TUF winner, you can get away with it. Likewise, the ugly victory more than likely stalls Koch for the time being, despite the improved wrestling that he displayed by managing to avoid most of Brookins’ takedowns.
One final thing to take away from last night was Alan Belcher’s effortless return to action. Despite a sixteen month layoff that nearly ended his career, Belcher made quick work of Jason MacDonald, punching him out in the first round. Given the almost embarrassing lack of depth in the middleweight division, Belcher may find himself back in the mix with that victory. Not bad for a guy who was considering retirement before last night’s fight. As for Jason MacDonald, well, there’s always Strikeforce (for the next few months, at least).
Full results, courtesy of MMAJunkie:
Jake Ellenberger def. Jake Shields via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:53
Court McGee def. Dongi Yang via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-28)
Erik Koch def. Jonathan Brookins via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Alan Belcher def. Jason MacDonald via verbal submission (punches) – Round 1, 3:48
Vagner Rocha def. Cody McKenzie via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:49
Evan Dunham def. Shamar Bailey via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Lance Benoist def. Matt Riddle via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ken Stone def. Donny Walker via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:40
Seth Baczynski def. Clay Harvison via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:12
T.J. Waldburger def. Mike Stumpf via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:52
Robert Peralta def. Mike Lullo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Justin Edwards def. Jorge Lopez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)