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EliteXC middleweight picture could include Shields

After fighting twice on primetime network television over the span of seven weeks, EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler expressed during the post-fight press conference for “Unfinished Business” this past Saturday that he was planning on taking some time off.

Despite promoting shows on Aug. 15, Sept. 20, Sept. 26, and Oct. 4, it appears that EliteXC is in complete agreement that Lawler needs a break. EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw confirmed to FiveOuncesOfPain.com that Lawler will be on hiatus in order to allow his body time to recover from competing in back-to-back fights in such close proximity, as well as to allow the nasty gash sustained to the top of his scalp to heal.

Who he’ll face upon his return is anyone’s guess at this point. Former UFC light heavyweight champion and former Strikeforce middleweight title holder Frank Shamrock has expressed a keen interest in fighting Lawler in the coming months. While Shamrock has stated in the past that he’s only looking to fight big names, it appears as if Lawler could fit the profile of his ideal opponent after being featured in two bouts on primetime network TV.

Whether or not a Lawler vs. Shamrock encounter will occur before year’s end remains to be seen, as Shamrock not only owes two fights to EliteXC, but one more to Strikeforce as well. With Cung Le not expected to fight again until 2009, Shamrock may be called into action before Lawler is ready to return.

Lawler could also be looking at a rematch at one of two opponents. Both Joey Villasenor and Murilo “Ninja” Rua have won high-profile fights as of late. With several big shows coming up and a lack of star power in the middleweight division, it wouldn’t be surprising to see EliteXC try to match the two up again. Villasenor and Rua fought for the then-vacant EliteXC middleweight title during the Frank Shamrock vs. Phil Baroni show last June with Rua becoming the first-ever title holder at 185 lbs. following a second round TKO.

Both Villasenor and Rua have fought and lost to Lawler previously. Villasenor was knocked out by Lawler at 0:22 of round 1 during PRIDE 32 in 2006 while Rua dropped the middleweight title to Lawler when the two fought this past September.

One name to consider at 185 lbs. is the promotion’s welterweight champion, Jake Shields, who could be forced to move out a weight class out of necessity. Quite simply, after winning the vacant title following his first round submission over Nick Thompson this past Saturday, there is no obvious number one contender for Shields’ title.

IFL welterweight champion Jay Hieron would normally be an obvious candidate, but he could become property of the UFC if Zuffa is able to finalize an acquisition of some of the IFL’s select assets.

Paul Daley is a tremendous prospect but Shields is so advanced that EliteXC could find itself in a position where they are feeding a future star to a lion if they make the match so early in Daley’s career.

As we were the first to report, John Alessio recently signed a three-fight contract with EliteXC but the promotion might want to allow him to get a win or two under his belt before giving him a title shot.

A match between Shields and Phil Baroni would have strong box office potential, but after having just moved to welterweight following a career at middleweight, Baroni likely needs to get a win or two more under his belt as well.

Long-term, the best option for Shields might be to move up to 185 and push for a second title. It’s a possibility he not only refused to rule out during the post-fight press conference this past Saturday, but one that he indicated he would certainly welcome.

12 COMMENTS
  • Joseph says:

    Makes sense and there are tons of fights for Shields at MW.
    Lots of good matchups.

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  • Andrew says:

    I love all MMA no matter the org and am no UFC fanboy, but in my opinion, everyone would be better served if Shields could find his way to the UFC: himself, his school, fans of the sport, the UFC, etc.

    He’s a true mixed martial artist and I could see a ton of exciting matchups for him in the UFC at WW: GSP, Koscheck, Sanchez, Alves, Karo, etc. And seeing as he doesn’t seem to have any issues moving up, I could even see him giving Anderson Silva a run for his money. He’s *that* good. Just underexposed, IMO.

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  • Rich S. says:

    ya, i wouldn’t even mind if he went to WEC.. i just don’t like him in the EXC for some reason.. he seems too good for the other fighters.. although, i REALLY thought Fickett could give him a run for his money.. that would’ve been a great fight.. but.. it’s obviously not going to happen..

    and on the thought of him going to MW, yes, it might open a few more matches up for him.. but, at the end of the day.. he would be right back in the same situation.. who would he fight? Lawler, Villasenor, Ninja? not Shammy, and probably not Cung Le.. that’s all the MW division in the EXC has to offer a good matchup..

    he really needs to go UFC.. if not, i would be happy with him in WEC.. i mean, Shields/Condit, Shields/Larson, Shields/Miura, etc.. those all sound grrrrrreat..

    i’m sure we’ll see it happen soon enough.. maybe after one title defense..

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  • Warcry says:

    Whoever thinks Shields would give Gsp or Anderson Silva a run for their money is crazy,unhinged , off his rocker pick one. He’s good in the minor leagues with the other scrubs but, he would get bang out in the Ufc

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  • Andrew says:

    @Warcry

    Riiiiiiight. You’re really showing your ignorance.

    Never mind that he has quality wins over Sakurai, Okami, Condit, Charuto, Menne and just dismantled the Goat, who is a quality fighter in his own right. Of course he’s a minor league fighter and has no chance against GSP and Silva. Silly me.

    /sarcasm

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  • patrick says:

    these guys FIGHT for a living. It’s easy to call any organization that isn’t the UFC “the minor leagues” but it’s FAR from the truth. the truth is no matter what venue you fight in there is always going to someone across the ring(or cage) looking to destroy you. It’s a cop-out to call these guys “scrubs” when all they do is train for 8 hours plus a day and all you do is sit on your computer eat potato chips and typing in forums about your UFC man-crush. I’d like to see these UFC zombies get in the ring and try to bang it out with these “scrubs”. The fact is if the reason UFC won’t co-promote is because they don’t want to see their best fighters get tapped-out or KO’d(i.e. Chuck Liddell going to Pride and getting THRASHED). ufc WANTS to keep the ILLUSION, that their fighters are the best, going as long as you guys eat it up.

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  • Rich S. says:

    “(i.e. Chuck Liddell going to Pride and getting THRASHED)”

    i hate it when people bring up “UFC’s fighters being so much worse than PRIDE’s were”

    you can’t say Chuck got “THRASHED” in PRIDE, because aside from losing to Rampage, he Knocked Out Alistair Overeem and Guy Metzger..

    i know that’s off topic but it urks me..

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  • Warcry says:

    I’m sorry I didn’t realize Dave Menne a washed up former champ counted as a notable conquest and Sakurai is highly overrated and Condit has not taken on worthy competition. Shields cannot put himself on the level with Gsp and Anderson after beating Thompson whose major contribution is that stupid neckbeard.

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  • Rich S. says:

    first of all,
    Sak’s not overrated.. He’s beaten the likes of Aoki, Danzig, Hansen, Pulver, Trigg, and Uno.. to call him overrated is stupid..

    and second of all,
    Condit takes on the top in his division [that the WEC has to offer] and makes them look stupid.. Brock Larson CRUSHED competition to get his shot at Condit, and when he got it, he was made to look like a fool..

    if there’s any reason Condit’s not getting worthy competition, it’s because he’s already destroyed what they had to offer..

    just because people are in smaller organizations doesn’t mean their skill is any lower..

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  • Andrew says:

    ^^^ What Rich S. said.

    And to add more, I notice you failed to say anything about Charuto, who lost a controversial decision to Matt Hughes when Hughes was in his prime, and Okami, who’s generally thought of by most as the only legit contender left for Anderson at 185.

    But whatever. Keep on stating absolutes if it makes you happy. I don’t care.

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  • Warcry says:

    There is a reason he is not in the Ufc yet. You put Condit in this category as well their career’s have not progress to that level yet. When you talk about Gsp and Anderson Silva you’re talking about the top of the food chain not the middle or near the top but the apex in MMA. Dude is not on that level.

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  • patrick says:

    GSP has yet to successfully defend his title so i personally can’t put him in the same category as Anderson Silva who has defended his title six times(i think).
    GSP=great fighter
    Anderson Silva=phenom

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