Yesterday, UFC veteran and former title challenger Jake Shields was released by the promotion. The release came as a shock to most MMA fans and pundits due to the fact that Shields 3-1 with 1 no contest in his last five fights.
Shields is currently ranked at #11 in the UFC Welterweight rankings, but holds UFC victories over higher ranked fighters such as Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. Outside of the UFC, Shields holds victories over Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson, and Robbie Lawler.
The obvious answer to Shields’ release is that he was considered to be boring by many MMA fans. The fact is that Shields does not sell pay per views, and he is not a fighter most fans get excited over. It is part of the reason that Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch were both cut last year as well.
Dana White spoke with Yahoo Sports to explain the decision to cut Shields. Among the notable information, White mentioned that Shields was set to make $120,000 for his next fight:
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.
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 [welterweight] 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 [expletive].’ Right now, at this point, he’s just another guy.
All of the people who had been [expletive] and moaning to me about Jon Fitch when he was fighting for us and were complaining that he was so boring, they all got outraged when we cut him. And it’s like the same thing now with Jake. Well, the media didn’t even think he was good enough to be in the Top 10.
Clearly the UFC is pursuing a brand model that features exciting fighters that can eventually make a title run. It seems that Shields does not fit the ‘exciting’ fighter model, and he was certainly on the outside looking in when it came to the title picture.
FanSided will keep you updated on Shields’ status as he tests the waters of free agency over the coming weeks.