Jake Shields was released by the UFC earlier this month after a single loss, to Hector Lombard. Shields, 35, had previously beaten Yoshihiro Akiyama by unanimous decision and Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley by split decision. Shields also had a win over Ed Herman changed to a no contest, following his positive test for a prohibited substance. It was Shields first loss in nearly three years.
The release was doubtless influenced in part by the expensive contract Shields was fighting under.
The cut was also part of a larger trend in the UFC, in which for example Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch were released and Ben Askren was passed over, due to a fighting style not friendly to asses in seats.
And as well, the UFC is looking to promote young, new talent, rather than fighters like Shields who have been fighting since the late 90s.
UFC president Dana White discussed it with Yahoo Sports Kevin Iole.
"We look at everything," said White. "Everything. Money has something to do with it. I'd be lying if I said it didn't. But that wasn't the only reason or the main reason. It was a part of the piece of the puzzle as we were doing our evaluation of him."
"Mixed martial arts is a young man's game. I like Jake Shields a lot. But let's be honest here: Where was he going in this division of animals we have? He's on the downswing, and he's never going to be the guy. His stand-up never improved. He hasn't really shown anything in his last couple of fights to make you go, 'Holy s---.' Right now, at this point, he's just another guy."
Now, in an interview with MMAFighting, Shields responds.
"I was definitely a little surprised," said Shields. "Especially coming off some big wins, guys in the top-10, main events."
"I definitely didn't think they'd drop me after one loss. But, you know, I had a terrible performance. I certainly didn't feel like I fought like myself that night. But, given that it was one performance, you should get a second chance to go out there and try to win again. And I wasn't given that. But, ultimately it is what it is."
"I didn't read what Dana said, but ‘another guy?' So are [a lot of other fighters] I guess, considering I beat at least half the guys in the top-10. That's a little bit ridiculous. But I guess you have to justify it somehow."
"My last two fights have been really close and I haven't finished, so I figure maybe they're just doing that. But that doesn't really... I feel like the sport, they're trying to pull it away from being the best in the sport, and just putting it into, oh, you gotta go and slug it out and fight the way they want you to, which is kind of ridiculous. You wouldn't have guys like Floyd Mayweather being the best in the world if [boxing executives] pressured him like that.
"But it's where it is right now. You just have to deal with it.
"It's a rough industry. You never know what the next day is going to bring. One loss and all of a sudden you're out of the whole show. From being lined up to get a title shot, to being out of the show, you never know where you're going to end up.
"It's definitely a little frustrating, but I just have to not let it get to me and just keep going out there and winning fights and doing what I do."
Shields now fights in the World Series of Fighting.