On Monday, it was revealed that #11 ranked welterweight and former title challenger Jake Shields was released by the UFC after a loss to Hector Lombard, and the news was met with mixed views from fans and media. Some agreed with the decision, citing his expensive wages and lack of excitement and finishes as reason for the release, though many – myself included – felt this was an injustice after being just a win away from title contention, losing the fight, and sent packing as a result.
UFC president Dana White, in usual White fashion, commented on the release of Shields in an interview with Yahoo! Sport‘s Kevin Iole:
“We look at everything. Everything. Money has something to do with it, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. But that wasn’t the only reason or the main reason. It was a part of the piece of the puzzle as we were doing our evaluation of him.”
White confirmed with Iole that Shields was set to make $120,000 after his fight with Lombard, after reportedly being on a $75k show, $75k win contract. The fight was lacklustre as Shields was ragdolled by the far bigger Lombard, but his wins over Condit, Woodley and Maia – to name just a few – should have kept him in the promotion.
In the above link, Iole suggests that Shields is ‘on a downward trend’, but one loss in five is hardly the same level as the release of Fitch, who won just one in four before his release. Though Fitch is a good comparison point stylistically, he was someway off title contention, while Shields was not. Both were unsuccessful against Georges St-Pierre for the belt, but while Fitch was completely dominated while in his prime, Shields faced him in a relatively new weight class and arguably won two rounds against the champion.
Here are some further comments from White on the matter,
“Mixed martial arts is a young man’s game. I like Jake Shields a lot, but let’s be honest here: Where was he going in this division of animals we have? He’s on the downswing, and he’s never going to be the guy. His stand-up never improved. He hasn’t really shown anything in his last couple of fights to make you go, ‘Holy s**t.’ Right now, at this point, he’s just another guy.
He compares the Shields situation to Fitch, stating how those who complained about Fitch’s style were the same people who were outraged when he was cut. It takes two to tango, and if you aren’t good enough to stop the grinding style of Fitch or Shields, then Fitch or Shields shouldn’t be the ones to blame.