Jake Shields came into tonight’s UFC 121 match-up with Martin Kampmann knowing that a win would earn him a shot at the welterweight title.
It was no surprise to see Shields shooting for an early takedown against Kampmann, and he did so successfully. Shields then showed slick work on the mat, eventually gaining mount, though Kampmann showed that he’s no pushover in the ground game by making life difficult for the former Strikeforce champion and eventually escaping back to his feet. At this stage Kampmann was still tentative to let his own strikes go though in fear of getting taken down again and so was unable to capitalize.
Kampmann began to find some success in the second round though, pushing forward and landing some vicious knees from the clinch that clearly hurt Shields and appeared to take a considerable amount out of him. Shields showed his competitive instincts, continuing to drive forward and again took Kampmann to the ground and once again secured mount. The Dane is crafty though and makes it back to the feet. At this moment it becomes evident that Shields is exhausted and not steady on his feet.
‘The Hitman’ attempted to press home the cardio advantage in the third with Shields resorting to desperate takedown attempts with his gas-tank running on empty. Kampmann stuffs the shots, but instead of keeping the fight on the feet he opts to fight Shields on the mat. Despite being completely exhausted Shields’s grappling instincts took over and he kept out of his opponents submission attempts and somehow found the energy to escape and eventually take his back where he managed to ride out the final minute on the clock.
It appears Shields has done just enough to get a decision victory, and indeed he has, though it’s a split with one judge seeing it 29-28 in Kampmann’s favor, while the others hand Shields the win by 30-27 and 29-28 respectively.
This was not the performance that Shields would have wanted for his UFC debut. The knee strikes landed by Kampmann clearly took a lot out of him and a tough weight cut down from 185lbs in his previous fight also appeared to take it’s toll.
Despite that he should still have earned the next title shot at 170lbs against the winner of GSP Vs Koscheck.