Jae C. Hong / AP
Sunday, Oct. 24, 2010 | 2:14 a.m.
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Many people will share the same opinion of Jake Shields' highly-anticipated UFC debut, calling it unimpressive and whatnot.
But after the former Strikeforce middleweight champ took a split-decision victory over Martin Kampmann on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif., at UFC 121, UFC President Dana White's mind is still made up.
Shields will get a welterweight title shot against the winner of the upcoming Georges St. Pierre-Josh Koscheck battle. Those two will tussle at UFC 124 in Montreal on Dec. 11.
"I don't think any differently about the kid than I did yesterday at the weigh-ins," White said afterward. "No matter where Jake's fought or what he's done or who he's beaten or what he's accomplished, it's tough coming into the UFC for the first time. He beat a tough guy tonight."
After winning a docile opening round, two of the three judges gave the second to Kampmann. Shields did just enough in the third to get the nod, giving him his 15th straight professional victory.
"I don't think it was my best (performance), but it was a learning experience," said Shields, who had to cut 20 pounds in a rush for the fight and looked drained mid-way through the second round. "My first fight in the UFC, the jitters, a lot of things going on. I kept my winning streak going and hopefully I'll come back stronger next time."
Ortiz finished in the UFC?
Without saying it specifically, White pretty much implied that Tito Ortiz's days in the UFC could be numbered after the legend lost a unanimous decision to Matt Hamill.
It makes Ortiz's record 0-4-1 in his last five fights, and he has not won since Oct. 10, 2006.
When asked about Ortiz's future, White told media members that they should know what happens to guys who lose four out of five fights in the UFC.
"I think you guys just answered that question yourselves," he said.
As for Ortiz, he remained upbeat, and unlike after his loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 106, said that he feels healthy coming out of the fight.
"I'm not even close to the end of my career," he said. "The decision lies in Dana's hands, but I've gone through some surgeries that people don't come back (from). I feel great. Besides my face being a little sore, I feel fine. I need to get back to wrestling. I need to get back to my roots."
As for Hamill, who including a controversial DQ victory over Jon Jones has now won five in a row, his next fight will come against a Top-10 caliber opponent in the light heavyweight division, according to White.
Sanchez turns a corner
A largely Hispanic crowd at the Honda Center did not just benefit Cain Velasquez on Saturday night.
Diego Sanchez fed off of that same energy, avoiding a third consecutive defeat and taking a unanimous decision over Paulo Thiago.
After losing a tentative first round, the fan favorite Sanchez got in a zone mid-way through the second, after he lifted Thiago high off of the ground and over his head, let out a primal scream and slammed his opponent onto the mat.
From there, for the next round-and-a-half, Sanchez took advantage of a winded Thiago and executed impressive ground-and-pound techniques.
Sanchez was in an honest mood at the post-fight press conference, admitting that after his memorable win against Clay Guida at the Ultimate Fighter Season 9 finale, he got caught up into some dangerous partying ways and lost focus.
After losing in a lightweight title bout against B.J. Penn at UFC 107, he returned to welterweight and was shocked by John Hathaway at UFC 114, dropping a unanimous decision in uninspiring form.
Another low point he talked about was a drunken acceptance speech at an MMA awards show after his bout with Guida was honored as 2009's Fight of the Year.
"I just totally restructured everything," he said. "I moved to 20 miles outside of Albuquerque. I live at 8,000 feet (elevation). I run every morning at 8,000. I sleep at 8,000. I'm in the fresh air; I'm in the mountains. I made a lot of changes in my life.
"That's the past. I've cleaned up my life, and I'm focused on the things that matter."
White said that he plans to keep Sanchez in the 170-pound division.
Facts and figures
• Saturday's attendance was 14,856, while the gate draw was $2.15 million.
• Bonuses for the night were $70,000 each. Fight of the Night checks went to Sanchez and Thiago. Velasquez earned the Knockout of the Night reward, while Submission of the Night money went to Daniel Roberts.
PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
Court McGee def. Ryan Jensen via submission (1:21, Round 3)
Court McGee's first fight after winning Season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter started a bit shaky, but ended in resounding fashion, as he submitted Ryan Jensen with an arm triangle 1:21 into the third round. McGee's face was red and swollen after absorbing an entire arsenal from Jensen in the first round, then he regrouped to take round 2. All three judges had the score at 19-19 heading into the final round, and McGee came out of his corner ready to unload. After landing an early shot, he took Jensen to the ground, threw a wave of heavy elbows and ultimately caught Jensen in the choke not even 90 seconds into the final stanza. The win added yet another chapter into McGee's incredible story, which on top of winning the TUF title includes overcoming battles with alcohol and heroin.
Tom Lawlor def. Patrick Cote (unanimous decision)
Due to television timing, Tom Lawlor was not able to make one of his flashy, signature cage entrances, but maybe the change of routine was a good thing. He assumed top position on Patrick Cote for much of a 15-minute fight, snapping a two-match losing streak via unanimous decision. All three judges scored it 30-27, and rightly so. Lawlor used takedowns early in each round and successfully landed numerous shots to Cote's head and body while on the mat. Early in the third round, when Lawlor again broke Cote's spirits with a drop, Cote appeared completely gassed. When the fight was brought to a stand-up minutes later, Cote's tank was empty, as a lazy kick attempt turned into another takedown. For Cote, it was his third loss in a row, and he has not won since UFC 86.
Daniel Roberts def. Mike Guymon via submission (1:13, Round 1)
In his second consecutive appearance on a Brock Lesnar card, Daniel Roberts was victorious. But this time, it wasn't via decision. In fact, it didn't take long at all, as a quick takedown and failed attempt a a guillotine choke resulted in a 73-second victory over Mike Guymon with an anaconda choke. Roberts is now 2-1 in the UFC, and Guymon's organization record was dropped to 1-2.
Sam Stout def. Paul Taylor (split decision)
After falling to Jeremy Stephens via split decision at UFC 113, the karma from the judges' scorecards went Sam Stout's way this time around. He capped a strong final round by sending Taylor to the floor in the closing seconds with a shot square on the chin. As expected, the match was fought completely standing up, with Stout just doing a little more damage when all was said and done. The first judge scored it 29-28 in favor of Stout, with Taylor taking the next card 29-28 and the final ballot going to Stout, 30-27. It was the third win for Stout in his last four fights, all ending in decisions, while it was Taylor's third loss in his last four outings and he's now 3-5 with the organization.
Chris Camozzi def. Dong Yi Yang (split decision)
Camozzi made up for a sluggish start in his first fight since The Ultimate Fighter 11 finale, coming back to take a slight decision over Yang. Camozzi was a 29-28 winner on two of the three judges' scorecards. The round in question was the second, which could have gone either way. Camozzi, however, made a huge statement in the third frame, stunning Yang a couple of times, including with a strong left jab to the face that forced his opponent's nose to bleed profusely.
Jon Madsen def. Gilbert Yvel via TKO (1:48, Round 1)
It didn't take long for Yvel's record in the UFC to drop to 0-3, and his future with the organization may now be in question. It took Madsen almost no time to drop Yvel to the ground, mount him and bring the match to an end via strikes. Madsen is now 7-0 professionally and 4-0 in the UFC. It was his first fight in the UFC that did not go to the judges' scorecards.