Last night, amongst other things, saw the long awaited UFC debut of the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields. Coming into the bout riding a 15 fight win streak, Shields was expected to enter the fight against Martin Kampmann, take him down, and either work his ground and pound, or tap out the Danish Veteran. But things don't always go to plan.
Following a neat first round that saw a tentative Kampmann uneasy to throw hands due to the takedown skills of Shields, the debutant quickly took the fight to the mat, where he controlled his opponent using a variety of sweeps, and excellent holding skills (as well as one too many grabs at Kampmann's shorts, which the ref failed to notice). Entering round 2, it was clear to see Shields gas tank was already running low.
Instead of falling victim to more takedowns, the Xtreme Couture fighter managed to use his excellent sprawl to force Shields to keep the fight standing. Utilizing the clinch, Kampmann caught his opponent perfectly on the forehead with a fantastic knee, which dropped him. Shields desperately tried to secure another takedown, but failed. In almost identical fashion, Kampmann again clocked him with another perfectly timed knee, dropping him again, before Shields eventually put him on his back before the round ended.
Coming out in round 3, Kampmann looked like he was just starting the fight, while Shields looked exhausted. This time Kampmann capitalized on Shields conditioning, unleashing some of his kickboxing and punishing the UFC newcomer. Surprisingly, Kampmann chose to take the fight to the mat, putting Shields on his back, and spending at least half the round punishing him from the top. Then Kampmann made a mistake which ultimately cost him the fight, he tried to choke Shields. While at first it looked like he was having some success, the BJJ Black Belt reversed the situation and spent the majority of the final minute on top, landing very little (if any) significant strikes.
Fight Metrics break down of the fight:
While the buzzer announced the end of the fight, Kampmann bounced up, not a single cut or bruise on his face, where as Shields slowly struggled to standing, looking dead on his feet. Camera's even heard Kampmann exclaim "look at my face, there isn’t a single mark, look at his". And then came the judges:
Judge #1. 29-28 for Kampmann.
Judge #2. 30-27 for Shields.
Judge #3. 29-28 for Shields.
So not only in my opinion was Kampmann robbed of a clear decision, but in a round where Kampmann dropped him twice, according to one judge, Shields single takedown was enough to steal the round??? But this isn't an article about MMA judging (we'd be here ALL day if I started....) but perhaps even more surprisingly, a man well known for his judging antics, Cecil Peoples, WAS the judge who thought Shields won the fight.
And now, following that "win" it looks like Dana will deliver on his promise, and Shields will face the winner of GSP vs Koscheck. But realistically, could the Shields who struggled against Kampmann really take the Welterweight belt from either of the TUF 12 coaches? Sure, he might be able to get a takedown, but GSP or Koscheck could eat him for breakfast if he turns up like last night. The Champ has superior wrestling, exceptional ground game and an array of striking better than most Shields has faced. Even Koscheck would have no difficulty standing with Shields, and even then he could put him on his back too. So unless Shields can seriously figure out his how to fix his cardio issues, I'm not even sure a fight with the Welterweight Champ would be competitive.