Is Jake Shields a Title Contender at Middleweight?

Levi NileContributor IIIAugust 12, 2012

August 11, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Jake Shields (top) fights Ed Herman (bottom) during UFC 150 at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Now that UFC 150 is in the books and Jake Shields is relaxing with a victory over the always tough Ed Herman under his belt, we as fans and devout followers assess last night’s performances and look to the future.

When considering Jake Shields, who clearly has his sights set on a title fight with Anderson Silva, a dark cloud can be seen gathering on his horizon.

Make no mistake about it: Jake Shields is a true fighter. He’s been a champion in lesser organizations and he’s also defeated some damn fine fighters: Dan Henderson, Martin Kampmann, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit and Yushin Okami to name a few.

Any division he’s fighting in, he’s aiming to win the belt; that’s just how champions think.

He’s a fantastic grappler who finds a way to win, and he’s shown that when the going gets tough, he’s still in it to win it, and that is a very rare thing.

And none of that would be enough to see him defeat Anderson Silva.

As good as Shields is—and he’s very good—he is still the fighter who was defeated by the jab of Georges St-Pierre, and that does not bode well for him.

Yes, GSP and Anderson Silva are very different champions with vastly different styles. But the fact remains that Shields is not going to be bringing anything to the table that Anderson Silva hasn’t had to contend with yet.

In many ways, a fight between Silva and Shields would be reminiscent of Silva’s fight with Demian Maia as Shields doesn’t possess the long-range takedown skills needed to get Silva down to the mat and he’s light years behind Silva in every area of the striking department.

Could Shields take Silva down and submit him? Of course, it is possible—just highly doubtful. It’s not that his grappling isn’t better than Silva’s once the fight hits the floor; it’s getting the champ down that would be so very hard.

Shields would be the smaller man in the fight, at a reach disadvantage, against the best striker in the sport, and like Maia found out, getting close enough to get the takedown is far easier said than done.

If he thought being on the end of GSP’s jab was bad—and it was clearly bad enough that it ruined his welterweight title aspirations—then he’s going to think being strafed at long range by Silva is a nightmare.

If there’s any good news for him at middleweight, it’s that Silva may very well be retired by the time Shields is in any kind of position for a title shot. If that ends up as the case, then he may very well wear UFC gold.

But until then, should Shields want to take the title from Silva by force, he’s going to find that his reach has exceeded his grasp.

Still, when you’re reaching for the stars, falling short still sees you well above just about everyone else.