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What's your reaction to Jake Shields' release from the UFC? Is it justified off the entertainment value issue? Is it wrong given the wins he'd had prior to the Hector Lombard loss? Make sense of the UFC's move.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK COLUMNIST
The UFC can do what they want and they don't have to justify themselves to anyone. At the end of the day they're a business and they make money, Jake Shields simply doesn't represent good value. Like Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch he was past his prime with a substantial contract from which the UFC weren't getting value. I don't like it and it's another nail in the coffin for the sport, but business is business. I guarantee Nate Marquardt will be looking over his shoulder if he doesn't get a win in New Zealand later this year.
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
Ambivalence. Look, he deserves a UFC slot, but I don't watch the UFC fights because my Ambien prescription is empty, dig? Old dog new tricks. Sloppy kickboxing forever, blah blah blah. It's really hard to get worked up over something, unjust or not, that you know is coming and can't stop from happening. And before you get too excited about Shields vs. Ben Askren materializing in Singapore, might I remind you of Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields? Sorry. I guess I shouldn't have reminded you of that. Please don't jump.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think it's largely justified. I certainly understand both sides of the argument, cutting Shields makes no sense from the sports side of things. However, it's perfectly understandable from an entertainment perspective. It became a cost/benefit analysis issue, and Shields just isn't worth the trouble. It's not as though Shields was the unquestioned best fighter in his division. Maybe he's top five, but it's still not worth it, and you could even debate whether he is in the top five of his division. It's the same thing that happened with Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch. The UFC wasn't interested in Ben Askren for the same reasons they cut Shields. The number of people who will pay to see these "boring" fighters is very small. Unless you can justify it by being one of the best, the UFC isn't going to be interested in you. Askren isn't one of the best, so they passed on him. Shields, Okami, Fitch...those guys aren't the best so the UFC got rid of them.
The moral of the story is that if you're going to employ a boring lay-and-pray style you better not lose a single match or you're gone. That, or you won't be there in the first place.
KALE HAVERVOLD, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Although I'm not a big fan of his, it really is a shame to see him released. If he would have beaten Lombard, there would have been a case that he could be the No. 1 contender. This seems to me like a clear entertainment move by them. They seem to want to put on the most exciting fights, regardless of skill levels. That is why today's UFC seems to be closer to Pro Wrestling than it is to the NFL/NBA.
BRAD WALKER, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
My reaction is a mixture of "nananana, hey, hey, hey, goodbye" and "serves you right." If you don't put on entertaining fights they will cut you when you lose. Example: Jon Fitch and Yushin Okami. Shields also failed a drug test during his time in UFC so it's not like he had brownie points saved up with White and the Fertitta's to use. Shields is a great wrestler, sadly that's about where his value ends. He puts on snoozers so I'm not sorry to see him g,o but I'm sure Bellator is ecstatic to have another Ben Askren-ish fighter in their future.
CASH NORMAN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
After initially hearing about Jake Shields' release from the UFC, I thought it's business as usual. Prior to his fight with Lombard, I anticipated that if Shields did not win he would be released.
There is outrage amongst hardcore fans over the release, as he was a top 10 competitor within the welterweight division. However, I would remind you, Jon Fitch was the #2 guy in the division for years and certainly never out of the top five and he was released as well.
Although I can sympathize with the discontent, I also understand the UFC's position from a business perspective. Often you hear Dana White state that the UFC is in the entertainment business, and one of the functions of being in the entertainment business is being able to sell tickets. While Jake Shields has been fighting for awhile and has a following among hardcore fans, the UFC is trying to expand their business and reach the casual and general sports fan. Honestly, the casual or general sports fan does not understand what is happening when the fight hits the ground. There is already a misconception among casual consumers of MMA, the UFC is just a bunch of grown sweaty men rolling around.
However, everyone understands hand to hand combat. The UFC needs fighters who are appealing and can bring their product to as many people as possible. This fact is no different than any other major corporation that produces and designs products to appeal to consumers.
The UFC seems to have adopted a "what have you done for me lately" business model. The scalps Shields collected in the past does not necessarily guarantee future ticket sells, thus does not guarantee his tenure in the organization. These fighters are commodities and the UFC is after whomever is the hottest selling commodity.
Fortunately or unfortunately for the UFC, they have obligated themselves to 50 events this year and are in desperate need of stars to headline those events. Regardless of his rankings within the welterweight division or his wins in the past, Jake Shields is not a draw.
TOM STRONG, MMATORCH UK CONTRIBUTOR
Was I surprised by Jake Shields' release? Not at all. Shields' fighting style really doesn't blend itself to many MMA fans that pay for a ticket or a PPV event. Shields has the same problem the likes of Okami and Fitch had. They will defeat 90% of fighters within their division but often look awful in the process.
Every victory since joining the UFC from Strikeforce, Shields has won via unanimous decision or split decision, and I can't think of one fight I've actually enjoyed watching. Like it or not the UFC are in the business to make money and plenty of it. So letting go of a fighter that 1) doesn't draw much money 2) will cost the UFC a lot of money 3) Will beat or likely beat any young hot prospect and 4) do it whilst putting you to sleep.
Though I've never enjoyed watching Shields fight, I can appreciate what he does inside the Octagon. But at 35 years old now and his style of fighting, it may limited where he goes to next. More than likely WSOF?
This will send a huge message right through the UFC roster: It pays more to be an exciting fighter than to just be a good fighter if you want to keep your job!
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