The co-main event of "UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez" sees former EliteXC welterweight and Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields make his UFC debut, taking on UFC veteran Martin Kampmann in a three-round welterweight contest. Here is MMA For Real's preview of the fight:
Record: 25-4-1 overall, UFC Debut
Key wins: Yushin Okami (ROTR 9), Carlos Condit (ROTR 9), Paul Daley (EliteXC: Heat), Robbie Lawler (Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields), Jason Miller (Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rogers), Dan Henderson (Strikeforce: Nashville)
Key losses: Ray Cooper (Warriors Quest 6), Akira Kikuchi (Shooto: Year End Show 2004)
How he got here: There's no other way to put it: Jake Shields is a winner. Let this stat sink in for a second: Shields has won 14 straight fights. That's right. Fourteen straight fights. He has not lost since falling via unanimous decision to Akira Kikuchi on Dec. 14, 2004. When Shields steps into the cage Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., it will have been 2,140 days since he last suffered defeat. In that time, Shields won the Rumble on the Rock welterweight tournament, the EliteXC welterweight championship and the Strikeforce middleweight championship. Shields has tested himself against some of the best non-UFC competition out there and has beat them all. Now he looks to take aim at the UFC welterweight title.
How he gets it done: Shields, probably rightfully, earned a reputation as a boring fighter throughout the early portion of his career. Then it seemed like something clicked, as he rolled out eight straight finishes prior to moving to the middleweight division in Strikeforce where he rolled up back-to-back decision wins over Jason "Mayhem" Miller and Dan Henderson, two notoriously hard-to-finish fighters. But as Herm Edwards once said, "You play to win the game." Shields does that. Of his 25 wins, 12 have come by decision, 10 by submission and two by TKO. Shields himself is hard to finish. He's only been finished once in his 30-fight career and that was more than 10 years ago.
X-Factor: When a fighter makes their UFC debut, sometimes you have to ask about Octagon jitters. I truly don't see that being a problem for Shields. He has competed on some big stages in his career and main evented a nationally televised network show in the biggest fight of his career and dominated. The big question will be: Does Shields believe his own hype? Time will tell.
Record: 17-3-0 overall, 8-2 UFC
Key wins: Carlos Condit (UFC Fight Night 18), Paulo Thiago (UFC 115)
Key losses: Nate Marquardt (UFC 88), Paul Daley (UFC 103)
How he got here: Martin Kampmann has eight wins in the UFC, but it's the story of his losses that have doomed him thus far. After winning four straight to open his UFC career, Kampmann was blitzed and destroyed by Nate Marquardt at UFC 88. This losses dropped him to welterweight, where, after two wins, he was steamrolled by Paul Daley at UFC 103. Unlike Shields, who has risen to the occasion against his toughest competition, Kampmann has not performed well against his. This fight could go a long way to changing that. Kampmann recorded a solid, dominant victory against Paulo Thiago in June.
How he gets it done: Kampmann brings solid striking and an underrated ground game into this fight. Of his 17 career wins, seven have come by KO or TKO, six by submission, three by decision and one by disqualification. Of his eight UFC wins, four have come by submission, three by decision and one by TKO. Despite all the wins, Kampmann still lacks an impressive finish against a top fighter.
X-Factor: This is the biggest fight of Kampmann's career, as it comes against a former two-division champion who is on one of the biggest rolls in MMA history. Can Kampmann step up to the plate in this one or will Shields roll through him like both Marquardt and Daley did? Kampmann has a ton of talent, but he needs to find a way to piece it all together for a big fight. This is his chance.
Bottom line: Shields wins this fight. No ifs, ands or buts about it in my mind. The UFC isn't bringing in Shields to have him lose his first fight. Plain and simple. These two have completely different track records when it comes to stepping up to the plate in big fights. Shields is going to do so once again when he submits Kampmann late in the first round.
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