Shields not to be taken lightly

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:21 PM ET

Few fighters have flown under the radar quite like Jake Shields.

A decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and former NCAA Division II wrestler, Shields has beaten some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. He also comes from one of the best fighter camps, Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, where he trains with Gilbert (El Nino) Melendez, and the Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate.

However, with only one fight in the UFC -- a less-than-stellar split-decision victory over Martin (Hitman) Kampmann at UFC 121 in November -- casual fans are only now getting introduced to one of the most talented grapplers in MMA.

Here's a look back at some of his biggest achievements.

UPSETTING SAKURAI

In his debut for Japan-based promotion Shooto on Dec. 14, 2002, Shields shocked the MMA world by upsetting Hayato (Mach) Sakurai. At the time, Sakurai was 19-2-2 and his two losses were to Anderson (The Spider) Silva and Matt Hughes.

A 23-year-old Shields weathered the early submission attack of Sakurai before settling down and earning a dominant unanimous-decision victory.

Shields would go on to claim the vacant Shooto middleweight championship by submitting Ray (Bradda) Cooper, before losing the title to Akira Kikuchi via unanimous decision in his last professional loss in late 2004.

RUMBLE ON THE ROCK

A year after his departure from Shooto, Shields took part in a welterweight tournament held by now-defunct Hawaiian MMA organization Rumble on the Rock.

After snagging a unanimous decision over former UFC middleweight champion Dave (The Warrior) Menne at ROTR 8 on Jan. 20, 2006, Shields met Yushin (Thunder) Okami in the quarterfinal at ROTR 9 three months later.

I'll be the first to admit I felt Okami won the fight. The first two rounds were close, but Okami landed the better strikes and stuffed most of Shields' takedown attempts. The third round was all Okami, who caused significant damage.

However, the first two rounds were competitive and Shields was given the judges' nod, further highlighting the inherent flaw in using the 10-point must system for MMA.

Later that night, Shields won a convincing unanimous decision over Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit to claim the tournament crown, putting his name on the map in North America.

GRACIE OPEN 2007

Okay, I'm cheating a bit here -- this isn't exactly MMA.

But Shields submitted UFC welterweight Jon Fitch with a rear-naked choke in a grappling match at Gracie Open 2007.

You can find the bout on YouTube, which is made better by the kid yelling instructions to Shields from the audience. "Don't let him rest!" and "Keep working!" are my favourites.

Shields also won a bronze medal at the 2005 ADCC submission wrestling world championship and the same year he took BJJ gold at the Pan Am Games, to name a couple more of his grappling accomplishments.

ELITEXC CHAMP

After stopping both Renato (Charuto) Verissimo and current UFC welterweight Mike (Quicksand) Pyle in back-to-back fights for EliteXC, Shields met Nick (The Goat) Thompson for the promotion's inaugural welterweight championship on July 26, 2008.

It took him just 63 seconds to slap on a guillotine choke and take the belt home.

On Oct. 4, 2008, Shields submitted Paul (Semtex) Daley with an armbar to retain the strap. Less than three weeks later, EliteXC folded.

STRIKEFORCE CHAMP

Shields submitted former EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie (Ruthless) Lawler with a first-round guillotine choke on June 6, 2009 in his Strikeforce debut. The fight was contested at a catchweight of 182 pounds.

He then claimed the vacant Strikeforce middleweight title with a unanimous-decision victory over Jason (Mayhem) Miller five months later.

The biggest win of Shields' career came a year ago this month when he successfully defended his middleweight title against Dan (Hendo) Henderson.

After getting dropped and almost finished by Henderson's patented overhand right, Shields was able to compose himself in the second round and dominate the MMA legend en route to a unanimous-decision victory.

THIS AND THAT

Jason (Mayhem) Miller will be the first fighter to make the transition from Strikeforce to the UFC now that the two organizations are both owned by Zuffa, LLC. Miller's manager, Ryan Parsons, confirmed the multi-fight deal with MMA Fighting. Miller, who hosts the MTV show Bully Beatdown, has not fought since dismantling MMA legend Kazushi (The Gracie Hunter) Sakuraba at DREAM 16 in September. Miller has fought once before in the UFC, losing a one-sided unanimous decision to Georges (Rush) St. Pierre six years ago ... Mauricio (Shogun) Rua has reunited with his former trainer and mentor Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, Calif. Rua began his career under Cordeiro at the famed Chute Box Academy. He is set to return to the octagon against Forrest Griffin at UFC 134 Aug. 27 in Rio de Janeiro ... Ken (The World's Most Dangerous Man) Shamrock was forced to pull out of an event in Orlando due to a staph infection. Yeah, I can't believe he's still fighting, either ... Brian (Bad Boy) Ebersole is expected to meet Dennis (Superman) Hallman at UFC 134 in Philadelphia Aug. 6, 2011. Ebersole's currently riding an eight-fight win streak after earning a unanimous-decision victory over Chris (Lights Out) Lytle at UFC 127 in February. Hallman, who has submitted Matt Hughes twice, scored a TKO win over Karo (The Heat) Parisyan at UFC 123 in November in his last outing.


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