Can Jake Shields get himself back on track against Tyron Woodley at UFC 161?

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Jake Shields
Jake Shields

The UFC will return to Canada this weekend for UFC 161, which takes place at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on June 16. The event will feature a headline bout between light heavyweight fighters Rashad Evans and Dan Henderson.

An interesting matchup that will be taking place on the main card is the welterweight showdown between former Strikeforce employees Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley.

Since losing a UFC welterweight title matchup against Georges St.Pierre at UFC 129 in April 2011, Shields has had to deal with a lot of ups and downs in both his MMA career and personal life. Not long after the GSP fight Shields lost his father, who sadly passed away on Aug. 29, 2011.

The relationship between Jake and his father Jack Shields has been well documented in the MMA media. Jake’s dad was also his manager and had been one of the main catalysts behind his success over the years. He also helped him to make many important decisions related to his career, so losing an important figure like this would undoubtedly have a major impact on your life.

Despite having to deal with the whirlwind of emotions that come along with losing a parent, Jake decided to go ahead with his scheduled bout against Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17, 2011. He lost the fight via first round TKO, with many people attributing the result to the emotional and mental pressures that Jake had tried to block out during his fight camp.

In February 2012, following two straight losses and various hardships, Jake headed over to Japan to face Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144 in search of a much needed win. After a performance that was far from his best, Shields was able to secure a unanimous decision victory over the Japanese star and get himself back into the win column.

Jake’s most recent matchup was against Ed Herman at UFC 150 in August 2012, where he decided to make a  transition into the middleweight division. He won the fight via unanimous decision. However, it was announced shortly after the event that Shields had tested positive for a banned substance and he was subsequently suspended for six months and fined. The result of his fight with Ed Herman was also overturned to a No Contest.

Taking into account everything I have explained above, I think it is safe to say that Jake needs a return to normality and possibly a renewed focus. With such talent and potential I feel it would be a crime for Jake not to begin a new campaign for the title. His UFC 161 opponent Tyron Woodley has excellent grappling and dangerous striking, so this will be a true test to see if Shields can put his career back on track and score a big win over a formidable adversary.

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