Fighters.com’s second-ranked middleweight Jake Shields (23-4-1) cemented his status as top contender to Fighters.com and UFC Middleweight Champion “Spider” Anderson Silva‘s (25-4) titles and picked up the Strikeforce strap himself in a five-round unanimous decision over former top ten and nails-tough “Mayhem” Jason Miller (22-7) at Strikeforce in Chicago November 7.
Shields reminded Fighters.com of Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (19-2) during his relentless press on the mat versus Miller. Of course, Shields doesn’t have St. Pierre’s striking skills, and no one is in Silva’s striking league. But, Shields shows no pretense of fancying himself a striker either.
At the opening bell Saturday night, Shields put Miller right on his back. Both fighters were working their game plan. Shields is going to put every opponent on their back. Knowing that, Miller relented and hoped to wear Shields out by going rag-doll while defending Shields’s submission attempts. But, Shields never wore down Saturday night and walked away with a UD and the Strikeforce title.
Now, if Silva has an exploitable weakness, it’s been on his back. Versus “Serial Killer” Travis Lutter (10-5) at UFC 67 in Las Vegas in February 2007, Lutter briefly took control of the fight from top position before wearing down and succumbing to Silva’s barrage of elbows. Third-ranked “Hollywood” Dan Henderson (24-7) was the first UFC fighter to win a round versus Silva and he did it from top position in the first round at UFC 82 in Columbus in March 2008, before fancying himself a striker and getting knocked silly and choked out in the second round. That mistake still stings Henderson to no end.
But, Shields wouldn’t make the mistake Henderson made versus Silva. Nor would he be so intimidated to shoot like former UFC title challenger Thales Leites (14-3) was at UFC 97 in Montreal April 18 that he’d just lay down and invite Silva into his guard. Shields would take the fight to Silva and put him on his back.
Obviously, that guarantees nothing at all. Despite looking beatable on his back at times, Silva has always regained his superiority and won in the UFC. However, it’s interesting to note that two of Silva’s losses in the mysterious time before he emerged as the greatest middleweight in MMA history were by triangle choke to Daiju Takase (7-12-1) at PRIDE 26 in Yokohama in June 2003 and by flying scissor heel hook to “Piranha” Ryo Chonan (16-10) at PRIDE Shockwave 2004 in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve 2004.
I’m not ready to predict that Shields would beat Silva. Only that Shields has the best shot at beating Silva among the current field of top ten middleweights.
And that field thinned in November as previously ninth-ranked “Ace” Rich Franklin (26-5) dropped out of the top ten for the first time since Fighters.com began ranking divisions. In his place, and the place of previous perenial top tenner “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-2) who also fell out of the rankings this month, “Ely” Paulo Filho (15-1) skipped up to the eighth spot, “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (8-2) moved into number nine, and “Phenom” Vitor Belfort (18-8) claimed the final position.
Third-ranked “Hollywood” Dan Henderson (25-7), fourth-ranked “Great” Nate Marquardt (29-8-2), fifth-ranked “Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (23-2-1), sixth-ranked Demian Maia (10-1), and seventh-ranked Chael Sonnen (23-10-1) all held steady.
Fighters.com’s November Middleweight Rankings
1. “Spider” Anderson Silva (25-4)
2. Jake Shields (24-4-1)
3. “Hollywood” Dan Henderson (25-7)
4. “Great” Nate Marquardt (29-8-2)
5. “Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (23-2-1)
6. Demian Maia (10-1)
7. Chael Sonnen (23-10-1)
8. “Ely” Paulo Filho (15-1)
9. “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (8-2)
10. “Phenom” Vitor Belfort (18-8)