Darrick: You just found out that you will be defending your title against John Alessio in about five weeks. What are your thoughts about this match?
Jake: I’m excited to be back at it. I trained all year without getting to fight until July, so I’m ready. I think John will be a good fight, he has good all-around skills and he always brings it. I’m sure he’ll be ready.
Yep, Jake Shields, the #3 welterweight in the world, who recently choked out top ten fighter Nick Thompson in 63 seconds, will next face John Alessio, a UFC castoff who went 0-3 in the Octagon before building up a respectable (though not stellar) 5-2 record in the WEC. Alessio has fallen short every time he’s gone up against high-grade competition — Carlos Condit, Thiago Alves, Diego Sanchez, a recent DQ loss to Brock Larson — so its surprising that he’d be given an immediate title shot after being picked up by EliteXC. But the match illustrates the dearth of talent in their welterweight class; Shields is in a holding pattern right now, waiting for challenges to materialize.
By the way, Sherdog just posted a strange little article about Shields watching UFC 87 at a friend’s house and paying close attention to the GSP vs. Fitch fight; the implied point of the piece was that he really, really, wants to be there. And we’ll probably never know the true extent of Shields’s abilities until he is.