In his UFC debut at UFC 121 against Martin Kampmann, an exhausted Jake Shields pulled out a split decision victory, earning a title shot in the process,
Shields utilized his superior grappling to effectively control Kampmann in the opening round. Following the first stanza, an already tired Shields commented in his corner, “It’s the weight cut.”
As the second opened, Shields had little pop in his step. His mouth open and his forward progress minimal, Shields carried his hands by his side as he tilted his head up for a long, hard look at the clock just two minutes into the second period.
Nevertheless, Shields still managed to outwrestle Kampmann for the remaining eight minutes of the fight and kept a superior position just long enough to earn a razor-thin split-decision win.
"I don't want to make excuses, but that was my first time cutting to 170 in a while," Shields said following the victory. "I do think I dropped too much weight. If that was a factor, I don't know, but I pulled out 20 pounds in a day. Will I do that again? No, never. I'll never drop that much weight again."
Dana White was nevertheless upbeat about the performance. "No matter how much weight he cut and whatever he did, that's his fault. That's his stupidity. He's been in the game for a long time, so I don't like to use any of that stuff, but the reality is I do know what he did, and I know he won't make those dumb mistakes next time.
"I know who he fought tonight. He fought a real guy tonight, and he overcame it. You don't even have to fight at this level to know that when you're looking at that clock, and there's still three minutes left on it, and you're in the second round, and you make it through the fight and you win it, it says something about you."
"It was a tough fight for Jake coming in, and no matter where Jake's fought and what he's done and who he's beat and what he's accomplished, it's tough coming into the UFC your first time. He beat a tough guy tonight, and he got his first win under his belt."
"How could you not be impressed with his performance? He had a tough guy in Martin Kampmann -- Martin Kampmann is no joke. When you come [into the UFC] -- and I don't care where you've been, who you've fought or what you've done -- the guys who you fight in the UFC fight the best in the world three times a year. These guys are no joke and he kept his composure. Yeah, you know, Jake's in the mix. I think no less of him today than I did yesterday."
With the win Shields extended his win streak to 15 in a row and earned a shot at the winner of champion Georges St-Pierre and Josh Koscheck who headline UFC 124 on Dec. 11. Shields hasn’t been defeated since Nov. of 2005.