With future in limbo, Shields still hoping for UFC

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Top ranked welterweight Jake Shields is tired of waiting and wondering. He wants job stability, and more importantly, to establish himself as the world's best.

"I'm just sick of not knowing when I'm going to fight," he told MMAWeekly.com.

In recent months, Shields has had anything but stability. Since the financial woes of ProElite virtually closed the organization and put a lock down on communications with its fighters, Shields has been in the dark about his future.

"No one really knows what's going on," he said. "I keep hearing they're coming back in a couple of days, but I've been hearing that for weeks though, so it's getting a little bit frustrating."

To keep himself busy, Shields has focused on a gym he recently opened in Berkeley, Calif., a block from the University of California campus. He's training every day, waiting for a conclusion to the saga that's placed him in limbo.

Shields' search for stability and top competition has led him, unsurprisingly, to the UFC's door. Though UFC President Dana White has expressed interest in securing Shields, the organization has maintained it will not attempt to break existing contracts. At the moment, Shields says he's "pretty much free" of his ProElite deal, yet serious negotiations with the UFC have not taken place.

"I feel like it's been the top show for a while, and I feel like most of the competition at my weight is in the UFC," he says of the Las Vegas based promotion. "The guys I need to fight, like G.S.P., B.J. Penn, Jon Fitch, Diego Sanchez."

One option that Shields is not sold on is fighting in Japan. He spent three years of his career there fighting for the Shooto promotion, and that, combined with the experiences of friends and teammates like Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez, make him hesitant to make the trip again.

"It's difficult doing business with Japan," he said. "They're really bad on last minute (fights), they'll let you know (with) two weeks notice, they've been doing that forever. Everyone that fights over there talks about -- even Pride, two, three weeks notice, and that's just not enough time to train for a fight. That's something I think the Japanese do on purpose against foreign fighters to try and get an edge. Stuff like that, and especially some of the shows have been paying people late. I would fight in Japan, but it would have to be a contract (with) more notice, and maybe some money up front."

Should he fight for the UFC, Shields wants to avoid climbing the ranks. He's already fought for millions on CBS, and doesn't want to toil in the relative obscurity of an undercard fight.

"I'd probably just stay on CBS than go fight on an undercard," he said. "That would make no sense for me at this point. I would hope to step right up against a top fight. I'd love to fight somebody like Diego or Koscheck or one of their top guys for my first fight to show that I belong there."

Shields says his goal is to have a UFC title shot by the end of 2009. He hasn't lost sight of a bout with Georges St. Pierre, the man widely considered to be the world's best at 170 pounds.

"I wouldn't want the fights if I didn't think I could win them," Shields said of UFC competition. "I'm not saying I'm going to run through the guys, but I think I can beat them. I think there are going to be some really tough fights, but I see myself beating anyone out there right now."

If EliteXC, or something resembling it, comes back on the MMA marketplace, Shields is open to fulfilling the remainder of his contract -- but at a price.

"I'd be open to it," he said. "But I think it would be time to re-negotiate."