By CagePotato Guest Contributor Brian Knapp
Victory rang hollow for Jake Shields on the night of November 10th, 2007. He needed only 3:39 to attach himself to Mike Pyle’s back and secure a fight-ending rear naked choke at EliteXC “Renegade” in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was supposed to be his crowning achievement, the win that would bring him his first major championship. Pyle had other ideas.
Plans for what was originally intended to be a welterweight title fight unraveled after Pyle, disgruntled with his treatment by EliteXC, turned down a contract extension with the fledgling promotion. As Shields stood in the center of the cage, his hand raised for the ninth time in as many matches, he could not escape the anger growing within him.
“I’m not going to hold it against [Pyle], but I was very irritated,” Shields says. “It cost me the title. I’m sure he had his reasons, but it seems like a stupid decision. It would have been a lot smarter for him to fight for the title and lose and to stay on good terms with EliteXC. Now where’s he fighting?”
A little more than four months later, Shields finally gets his crack at the EliteXC welterweight championship — a title most agree should already be fastened around his waist. The 29-year-old Californian will lock horns with UFC veteran Drew Fickett in one of three featured bouts at Strikeforce/EliteXC “Shamrock vs. Le,” which goes down this Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA. Shields understands a loss there would undo much of what he has accomplished during the past eight years.
“It’s a very important fight,” he says. “I’m on a huge winning streak, won nine in a row, and this is a title fight. I need to keep it going, and keep things on an upward swing.”
Conquering Fickett will be no easy task. An accomplished grappler in his own right, Fickett (31-5) last competed in December, when he submitted veteran Mark Weir with a rear naked choke at Cage Rage 24. Wins against one-time World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight title challenger Carlo Prater, current UFC lightweight contender Kenny Florian and Dennis Hallman anchor his resume. Fickett has delivered 20 of his 31 victories by submission, including a 2005 conquest of Josh Koscheck.
Shields realizes he has his hands full with the Arizonan.