MMA Power Rankings -- WELTERWEIGHT
Monday, Feb. 27
Jake Shields was expected to defeat Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 144, but there were plenty of variables in play. For starters, Akiyama was fighting in his native Japan as a welterweight -- a division that the UFC has long implored him to test. Then there was Shields himself, who had lost two in a row and was coming back from a violent first-round TKO loss to Jake Ellenberger. Would he bounce back strong from the losses?
He did. But Akiyama gave him trouble. In fact, he nailed a textbook harai goshi on Shields that reminded everyone of his judo background.
With Shields rediscovering his winning ways, he closes back in on a mess of contenders in the division. And how crazy it's gotten in a short time -- with Georges St. Pierre out until possibly November, Carlos Condit waiting to find out how long before committing to defend the interim title, and Nick Diaz looking at a suspension, it's not so much that Shields is climbing back to the top as it is the top coming down to him. Otherwise, Josh Koscheck is fighting Johny Hendricks in a conditional title eliminator in May, Ellenberger is waiting to see what happens with Condit, and Thiago Alves is sett to fight Martin Kampmann on March 2 in Australia ... which means Shields could be back into the top five before long without fighting again.
Lots of flux going on at 170 pounds.