Shields is currently training for his upcoming bout at UFC 161 against Strikeforce transplant Tyron Woodley (11-1). He is taking this fight seriously as he calls Woodley an “athletic and tough guy.” Both fighters have strong wrestling backgrounds, but Shields believes that his BJJ will take him to victory. “My submissions are way ahead of his, he’s going to want to keep this standing,” said Shields.
Both fighters have fought under the now defunct Strikeforce banner; Shields left as a free agent and Woodley came over after the organization was shut down. All the Strikeforce transplant fighters have been doing very well with their new employee. This does not surprise Shields at all. “(Strikeforce) never got the respect, (I’m) not surprised how well they are doing at all,” Shields told BJPENN.com radio.
Shields is a part of the Cesar Gracie camp. A lot of talented fighters are in that group including Gilbert Melendez, Nick Diaz, and Shields himself. Both Melendez and Diaz have title shots coming up and Shields stands by his teammates. He has been training alongside with them helping them prepare for their upcoming fights. He speaks highly of both men, “Top Fighter (Melendez) never got the respect or mainstream attention” and going on to say “he (Melendez) will pull out the upset.” Melendez takes on Benson Henderson for the UFC Lightweight championship on April 20th at UFC on Fox 7.
The respect and admiration for Melendez carries over to Nick Diaz as well. As Diaz trains for his upcoming Welterweight championship fight, Shields has been playing the role of GSP in sparring sessions. “He’s (Diaz) in the biggest fights imaginable, and always shows up for a fight” Shields said. “He will keep the pressure on GSP.” If both Melendez and Diaz win they would show the strength of the Gracie camp. “It would be huge for our camp if they pull it out,” Shields said.
Shields is coming off a year suspension. He didn’t sit on the couch for that 6-month suspension, staying active training with Melendez and Diaz to stay in shape. When he spoke of being away from the sport he said, “made me hungrier than ever” and on his return “going to prove to the world I’m not done, I need to go out there and finish Woodley and look great doing it.”
The topic of fighter cuts came up and Shields has a very strong opinion on the subject. When he was asked about the UFC cutting ties with Jon Fitch he responded, “Cutting him (Fitch) is crazy, but it makes you want to go out and perform. You definitely need to go out there and win but also need to put on a good show.” He believes that the cuts take away from the show, but he remembers this is a business. “It’s a business, but you’re in the top ten cutting him (Fitch) was unfair to me.”
Shields was then asked about the TRT topic that has become a go to exemption for a lot of fighters. What Shields does not understand is why fighters who smoke marijuana, with a legal prescription, can’t go through the same exemption process. “You should be able to smoke and not be tested, but you know you’re going to get tested just make sure it’s out of your system,” Shields said. “If you can get an exemption for TRT you should be able to get exemption for pot, pot can’t help you on fight night while TRT can.”
UFC 158 is coming up and it has been called the un-official “Welterweight tournament”. Something that Shields really wanted to be a part of, “Good card, I’d love to fight all those guys, I called right away when MacDonald pulled out, but they put Marquardt in.” That UFC 158 card is where teammate Diaz will try to win the Welterweight title, Shields being a Welterweight himself quickly killed any chance of him fighting his teammate. “If Nick Diaz wins the title, I’m not going to challenge Nick, I’ll move up,” said Shields.