Jake Shields has fought more than thirty times as a professional Mixed Martial Artist but this Saturday night he will enter the cage under unfamiliar circumstances. For the first time in his career, Shields will fight without Jack Shields in attendance after his “father, manager, and best friend” passed away less than a month ago.
Though ultimately a “pretty easy decision” to carry through on his commitment, the former Strikeforce middleweight champ admitted he wasn’t initially so sure.
“Of course the first few minutes I was little in shock and I didn’t know if I could fight or not, but then I got my head clear and I figured it was a thing I needed to do for several reasons,” Shields explained. “One, him being my manager, my biggest supporter and fan, he would want me to do that. And I think I need to do it for myself too. I think if I would have pulled out of the fight it would have put me into a lot more of a depression. This way it gives me something to keep focusing my energy on and keep moving forward. Bad things happen in life, and we were really close, so of course it’s hard, but I can’t just stop my life and not do anything. It’s not what he would want, not what I want, and I’ve got to go on and continue doing positive things.”
Preparing for Ellenberger has also been therapeutic for the 32-year old Californian, who elaborated, saying, “I definitely think it helps a lot because, of course, I have those moments where it hits me. There have been times when I went to go call him about something, and I realize that he’s not there to call, and it hurts. But there’s so much going on with the fight that I have to stay focused. And when you’re sparring, you have to have your head together. You can’t go drifting off. So I’m able to put my head in the right spot every day, and it keeps me feeling better.”
While his heart may be a bit heavier than normal, Shields’ spirit certainly seems as lively as ever. When asked about what he expected to unfold in the Big Easy, Shields candidly replied, “I want to make a huge statement and I want to blow this kid out of the water. I want to show that I can beat him on the feet, on the ground, anywhere. I want to go out there hungry and put him away. I don’t want the fight to go the distance.”
Shields and Ellenberger will meet in the main event on Spike TV with the card’s broadcast starting at 9:00 PM EST with the preliminary card streaming through Facebook a few hours earlier.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/STRIKEFORCE