Almost immediately after the news broke that EliteXC would be shutting down, just about everyone began to speculate what would happen to its fighters. On the top of that list is Jake Shields, likely to be one of the most sought after fighters from the roster. MMAWeekly.com spoke to the first and only EliteXC welterweight champion about his future.
Shields commented first that no one from EliteXC contacted him personally to tell him about the company's shutdown, and he only found out about it just before the whole world knew the promotion's fate.
"I found out yesterday right before it went up on the Internet," Shields said in an exclusive interview with MMAWeekly.com. "I got a call from Cesar (Gracie, Shields' manager and trainer) and he had talked to EliteXC and it was a wrap. I just kind of found out last minute."
Since making his move to EliteXC, Shields amassed an impressive 4-0 record with wins over fighters like Nick Thompson, Mike Pyle, and most recently defending his title against Paul Daley in October.
"It's mixed feelings," he commented about EliteXC's fate. "It's great being the champ, great exposure being on CBS, but I feel like I'm in a situation where a lot of people are going to want me to fight for them. I got great exposure out of them and it just gives me options going to another show."
The biggest question of course now becomes where will Shields land?
"The UFC's the most likely option," he said. "That's where I'm certainly leaning. I haven't had any talks with them yet; I have to get my contract released. That's definitely the number one option I'm looking at. I was on good terms with them before I signed this last contract, so I don't think there should be any problem."
While he won't rule out other promotions as viable contenders, it seems clear where Shields wants to go.
"The UFC's where I've wanted to fight for years, and also the guys ranked above me in the world are there so that's certainly the most logical show to go to."
As Shields mentioned, at this time he hasn't had any kind of contact with the UFC, but he says he first has to deal with his official release from his existing EliteXC deal, which could end up mired in bankruptcy proceedings, so he can start shopping around as a free agent.
"I don't want to get stuck in some complicated thing where they're trying to hold onto my contract, trying to sell it," he stated. "I want to be a free agent and then re-negotiate contracts from there."
The California native also complimented the UFC as being "very professional" and understands that they won't negotiate with him until his current situation is resolved, but he is hopeful they will be in contact.
"As far as I know they'll be interested so hopefully it will work out," said Shields in closing.
I know Jake looked sloppy in his last fight, but he would definately be a great addition the UFC, him versus any of the top 170lbers would be interesting (Diego,Karo,Thiago,GSP etc.)