Jake Shields loves to text. In fact, it might be his favorite thing to do aside from training at his gym, the Shields-Graciefighter Academy, in Berkeley, Calif. Not a day goes by without text messages flying into and out of Shields’ phone. Except for the night two weeks ago when the 30-year-old went radio silent. “I guess I was out partying and lost my phone,” he says with a laugh.
He might have lost his mobile device, but Shields hasn’t lost his head. The fighter divides his time between training at his own gym, the Caesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy and the American Kickboxing Academy in preparation for his upcoming middleweight title scrap with Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
This bout, however, wasn’t supposed to happen. After Shields – a natural welterweight – moved up a weight class to defeat the last EliteXC middleweight champion “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler this past July, he made it known that he was eyeing Cung Le’s Strikeforce middleweight strap.
But in September, Le opted to continue making movies rather than resume his MMA career and subsequently forfeited his title belt. “That was the fight I was hoping to happen,” Shields says. “I didn’t really think it was gonna happen, so I wasn’t really surprised that he vacated it.”
Instead, Shields will face Mayhem Miller for the vacant championship.
Mayhem, who boasts a 22-6 record with notable victories over Lawler, Denis Kang and Tim Kennedy, has garnered a lot of mainstream attention over the past year due to his hosting role on Bully Beatdown – a “reality series” on MTV where the “strip of doom” bandit hunts down a bully and coerces him into fighting a professional mixed martial artist for the chance to win ten thousand dollars.
Although the show is a ratings success, Shields – who has appeared on the program to lay the smackdown on a rollerblader and a studio gangster – doesn’t believe Mayhem’s new found fame has gone to his head. “From what I hear, he’s still training hard and taking this fight seriously,” Shields says. “I think he’s smart taking the fight serious. If not, he’s gonna be in for a big surprise.”
While it may look like Shields doesn’t have anything to lose in this middleweight showdown, being that he is a natural 170-pounder, there actually is something for him to lose.
The Graciefighter has been undefeated for the past five years and has victories over top ranked competition, be it welterweights like Carlos Condit, Nick Thompson and Paul Daley, or middleweights like Yushin Okami and Lawler. Shields doesn’t want that streak to end and if he were to claim the 185-pound title this Saturday Night, he could cement his status as one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in the sport.
“I definitely think this will add me to the top [of the pound-for-pound list],” he admits. “I’m already starting to make some of the top ten lists, and I think if I go out there and dominate Mayhem, this will show that I belong there.”
There also isn’t a shortage of highly touted middleweight contenders in Strikeforce either as Lawler, Ronaldo “Jacare” de Souza, Tim Kennedy, Matt Lindland, Frank Shamrock and Cung Le (when he returns, that is) are all gunning for future title shots.
Also, former PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champ Dan Henderson has been rumored to be the next addition to the Strikeforce roster. “That would be awesome if that were to come together,” Shields says.
And just like Henderson did in PRIDE, Shields is aiming to be a dual champion in the California-based organization – if the right scenario were to present itself, that is. “I’m willing to drop down sometime,” he admits. “But right now, I’m just moving up and seeing what pans out in welterweight – see who becomes the champion and if he establishes himself there. If [it] were not Nick Diaz, then I’d drop down and fight the champ there too.”
But for now, Jake Shields is focused on his middleweight title fight with Mayhem Miller this Saturday Night. He’ll worry about the welterweight division, and his lost cell phone, later.
Check out FIGHT!’s exclusive Jake Shields photo gallery here.