(Jake initially felt some trepidations about it, but Dana assured him that everyone who signs a UFC contract takes pictures like this. PicProps: Sherdog, obviously.)
It must add a certain amount of insult to injury for Strikeforce that the UFC is taking its sweet time signing Jake Shields. It’s almost like Dana White wants to remind Scott Coker (and everybody else) that the MMA world starts and stops at his convenience, not theirs. Yeah, just as soon as he rolls out of bed around 11 o’clock this morning, hits the gym, lunches at Delmonico’s, spends the requisite few minutes berating Marty Cordova and swings by Pinkberry for his snack, he might – if nothing else comes up – get around to locking down the excommunicated Strikeforce champ. Why be so leisurely about it? Because he can, motherfucker. Where else is Shields really going to go?
Despite reports this week from Shields’ own team that he’d finally slapped his John Hancock on one of the UFC’s notoriously draconian legal agreements, the company itself continues to deny it has formally come to terms with the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu product. According to an MMA Fighting.com story published late Friday night however, Shields’ signing actually is looming and once it goes down, he could be looking at facing Martin Kampmann at welterweight in his promotional debut.
The report cites two “sources close to the situation” saying Shields is expected to sign a deal during the next several days and could be in action as early as October’s UFC 121, which is thought to be scheduled for the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. These developments, naturally, will only occur barring any “unforeseen setbacks” … like, you know, Big DW has to unexpectedly fly to the Middle East to shoot guns with a Sultan or some shit.
Those same sources confirm rumors that Kampmann will be up first, though last we heard from the Danish fighter’s camp, it sounded like they were still a bit miffed at not getting to fight Dan Hardy at UFC 120 in England. Agent Ken Pavia told MMA Weekly on Friday that Kampmann, who is 4-1 at 170-pounds, had really been hoping to take on Hardy but added that his client would still “welcome” a fight with Shields.
The former Strikeforce champ is riding a 14-fight win streak and hasn’t lost since 2004. A natural welterweight, he made a strong case for inclusion on MMA’s major pound-for-pound rankings by winning his last few fights at middleweight, including beating perennial multi-division Top 10er Dan Henderson in his final Strikeforce appearance back in April.
Things got a bit unseemly between Shields and Strikeforce in the latter days of their contract negotiations, or lack thereof. Even after the company stripped him of the belt when it became clear it had no chance to re-sign him, Shields had the audacity to act like he was surprised and offended by the move. He went as far as to cut an interview with BJ Penn.com about how shocked and put out he was that the organization had not left primo tickets for him to “Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum” in San Jose in late June.
“They certainly didn’t treat me like a champion,” said Shields, who’d recently been shown on television sitting arm-in-arm with White during the WEC’s first pay-per-view. “I went up there thinking that I was the champion, didn’t have any tickets and wasn’t able to get in … They didn’t give me any tickets and when they did, they were in the nosebleed seats. Finally one of the Showtime guys was able to get me down in the front row. They obviously wanted (Dan) Henderson to win from the beginning and they were a little upset about that, but I guess they just got mad at me for winning.”
Fighters, man. Who knows what goes on inside those battered brains. Anyway, we’re cautiously optimistic Shields will actually sign with the UFC this week. Maybe. Depending on how Dana feels.