Shields to fight Sept. 17 despite loss of father

nullI am not the biggest Jake Shields fan in the world.

But, I have to give the guy a lot of credit.

Shields will stick with his upcoming bout against Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17 despite losing his father, Jack, at the age of 67 on Tuesday.

MMAFighting.com first reported that Shields would be fighting in a few weeks.

Jake Shields has decided to go through with his Sept. 17 fight against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25 following the recent death of his father and manager, Jack Shields. MMA Fighting confirmed the fighter’s decision with UFC officials.

GracieFighter.com broke the news of Jack Shields’ passing on Tuesday. He was 67 years old.

No word just yet on the cause of death. According to Sherdog.com, Shields died in his sleep on Monday at his Sacramento, Calif., home.

“Lost my father manager and one of my best friends today!! R.I.P jack you will be greatly missed and loved by many,” Shields was quoted as saying on the Web site.

I am fortunate to still have my father alive and well, but just the sheer thought of him passing away is enough for me to not want to do anything the rest of the day.

I am sure this is a tough time for Jake and I wish him my best as he goes through this period. I also give him a lot of respect for taking the fight with Ellenberger. It is a dangerous fight for him but I am sure he will have a lot of support going into the contest.

Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThe middleweight division had a big fight this past weekend but the result wasn’t too surprising.

Anderson Silva maintained his top spot in my top 10 middleweight rankings with his win on Saturday and it seems he has only one man that can truly pose a threat to his championship.

Here is a look at the top 10 in the 185-pound division in my eyes.

1. Anderson Silva (31-4) – Silva made Yushin Okami look like an amateur last Saturday and he has cemented himself as the best middleweight in UFC history. Next up for Silva will likely be a rematch of some kind, with either Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson.

2. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen hasn’t competed since pushing Silva to the limit last fall, but he is scheduled to face Brian Stann at UFC 136 in early October. Sonnen appears to be the lone hope to dethrone Silva someday, but the champion still managed to submit Sonnen despite an injured rib and 20 minutes of pummeling.

3. Vitor Belfort (20-9) – Belfort showed his explosive ability in his quick knockout of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. He still may have the fastest hands in the division, but he missed his opportunity when he faced Silva back in February. A few more wins for Belfort may get him another crack at the title.

4. Yushin Okami (26-6) – Okami also had his chance, but couldn’t find a way to make his fight with Silva a grappling one. He seemed to passive and allowed Silva to get comfortable on his feet, and that is always a losing combination. Okami has to go back to the drawing board, and will likely need a long winning streak to get another title fight.

5. Michael Bisping (21-3) – Bisping is going to face off with Mayhem Miller later this year for a chance to propel himself into title contention. Bisping is still looking for a marquee win in his career and he hasn’t been terribly impressive since his TKO win over Denis Kang back at UFC 105 in 2009. Bisping needs an emphatic victory over Miller to really be considered a title contender.

6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-2) – The Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is set to return to action next week against Luke Rockhold, who is good competition in the Strikeforce organization, but not a great opponent on the world stage. Someday, with Strikeforce slowly merging into the UFC, I would expect Souza to compete in the elite organization someday.

7. Brian Stann (11-3) – Stann faces his toughest test to date when he squares off with Chael Sonnen at UFC 136. Stann has established himself as a feared striker in the division with respectable grappling skills. In this fight, he will need to have tremendous takedown defense to keep the relentless Sonnen from getting top position.

8. Mark Munoz (11-2) – Munoz will take on Chris Leben at UFC 138 in the highest-profile fight of his career. Munoz is a grinder that has some big punching power without the technique. His strength is his wrestling, but he will mix it up with anyone. He should probably stick to the wrestling in his bout with Leben.

9. Chris Leben (22-7) – Leben breaks into my top 10 list after his impressive KO of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. Leben clearly has the striking power to beat anyone on this list, but lacks the grappling skills and pure boxing technique to really become a top 5 contender. His bout with Munoz will test how far his grappling has come and show if he is ready to make a serious run at the title.

10. Alan Belcher (16-6) – Alan Belcher will make his return to action in a couple weeks after an eye injury sidelined him for more than a year. Belcher was on his way to becoming a title contender before getting hurt. When he returns on Sept. 17, he will face off with Jason MacDonald, another UFC veteran. The long layoff will be something Belcher has to overcome, but a win over the submission specialist will be a nice start for his return.

Jones denies spying claims from Jackson

nullIt didn’t take long for Jon Jones to respond to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s accusations of spying.

According to MMAFighting.com, Jones took to the internet to deny the spying rumors.

Addressing Jackson directly via Twitter, Jones said he would never cheat because he has too much respect for mixed martial arts — and Jones suggested that makes himself different from Jackson.

“Just so you know, I’m not a person who looks for shortcuts in life. Unlike you, MMA is not something I do because of money,” Jones wrote. “It’s a way of life for me and I would never disrespect the integrity of that.”

It sounds like this issue may be more about Jackson’s camp and teammates rather than anything Jones is doing.

If Jackson can’t trust his teammates, it is going to distract him from being ready for Jones come fight night in September.

On a side note, this fight continues to pick up intrigue and is quickly developing into a nice rivalry that has left the Jones vs. Rashad Evans talk on the backburner.

Rampage Jackson accuses Jon Jones of spying

nullAthletes always want to get an edge.

In MMA, there are the old classics of greasing and PED’s, but it appears there may be a new method breaking into the fold.

UFC 135 headliner, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson did an interesting interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports in which he accuses light heavyweight champion and upcoming opponent, Jon Jones, of having a spy in Jackson’s camp.

Not only that, but Jackson also claims that he had a rat in his camp when he took on Rashad Evans.

Jackson said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Monday that he made up a story about having a hand injury last week. Yet, four hours after he mentioned the story in his gym, he said his manager received a call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva asking about it.

Jackson said he first became wary about a spy in his camp during the days prior to his May 29, 2010, fight at UFC 114 in Las Vegas with Rashad Evans. He said he injured his knee in training, but kept it quiet and let no one know. He was pleased when the injury never found its way into the media.

Yet, Jackson said that during the fight, Evans punched him repeatedly on the injured knee.

“In all my years of fighting, I’d never been punched in the knee before and I never saw anyone punch someone in the knee,” Jackson said.

These are some pretty strong accusations, but intriguing nonetheless.

If I were a member of Jackson’s camp, I would be pretty nervous right now. It’s like something out of The Departed.

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Cerrone steps in for Stout, to face Siver at UFC 137

nullThe passing of trainer Shawn Tompkins has had its impact on the MMA world.

For Sam Stout, who was a brother-in-law and training partner with Tomkins, the impact has been even greater.

MMAJunkie.com confirmed that Stout has withdrawn from his fight with Dennis Siver at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 and former WEC star, Donald Cerrone, will fill in.

Donald Cerrone (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has stepped in for Sam Stout (17-6-1 MMA, 6-5 UFC) and now meets Dennis Siver (19-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) at October’s UFC 137 event.

As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) first reported earlier today, Stout recently withdrew from the event for undisclosed reasons. Event sources confirmed the opponent switch.

Fellow lightweight Cerrone now takes his spot on the card and fights for the fourth time in 2011.

Cerrone is 3-0 in the UFC and is coming off a first-round TKO of Charles Oliveira at UFC Live 5 earlier this month.

Siver has won his last four, including a close decision victory over Matt Wiman back at UFC 132 in July.

The winner of this contest will quickly emerge as one of the top contenders in the lightweight division.