Strikeforce released its middleweight champion, Jake Shields,
from his contract with the organization on Wednesday, according to
an industry source with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
The 31-year-old Shields had been in a final-phase “matching period”
of his recently completed contract with the San Jose, Calif.-based
promotion, which allowed him to receive bids from other
organizations, including the UFC, that Strikeforce could review and
match in order to keep his services. However, the source said
Strikeforce waived that contractual right in its final 2-3 weeks
and opted to release the Cesar
Gracie fighter altogether before the period expired.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker confirmed to Sherdog.com that the
promotion informed Jack Shields, the fighter’s manager and father,
of the release on Wednesday. Coker would not comment further on the
“In the conversation we had today, they said they felt that Jake
was leaning towards the UFC. Honestly, we were talking to them with
an open mind, though Jake wants to fight the best,” said the elder
Shields. “Between Strikeforce and EliteXC, Jake had the chance to
fight on Showtime and CBS four or five times against some top
fighters like Dan
Henderson and Robbie
Lawler. Strikeforce gave him great opportunities and exposure.
They’ve been nothing but great for Jake.”
Shields, who successfully defended his title against former Pride
Fighting Championships champion and UFC middleweight Henderson on
April 17 in Nashville, Tenn., opted to not negotiate a renewal
contract with Strikeforce prior to the bout. The fighter’s
contract, which was originally drawn up by Pro Elite and purchased
by Strikeforce after the short-lived fight organization went
bankrupt in October 2008, also did not contain a standard
“champion’s clause,” which could have placed stipulations on
Shields’ renegotiations while he remained a titleholder.
Prior to news of the release, Jack Shields told Sherdog.com that he
submitted the fighter’s asking price to the UFC on Wednesday and
was awaiting an initial bid from the rival promotion to pass onto
Strikeforce for review. The elder Shields said he submitted figures
for a series of bouts he thought requisite if his son fought the
top contenders in both the UFC’s welterweight and middleweight
Shields said his son would like to debut as a UFC middleweight,
possibly against champion Anderson
Silva, as welterweight champion Georges
St. Pierre will be tied up with “The Ultimate Fighter” reality
TV series and a pending bout with rival coach Josh
Koscheck later this year.
“We didn’t come to agreement with Strikeforce, but Jake’s excited
to challenge himself against the likes of Anderson
Silva and others in the UFC,” said Shields.
In recent weeks, Strikeforce’s Coker had said the promotion had
initial plans to hold a four-, eight-, or even 16-man tournament to
crown a new champion if Shields vacated.