“I’m feeling great about my opponent. [Akiyama] is someone that I should match up good against… I just wanna have a great year. 2011 wasn’t my best year and I just wanna get back on track and get a couple of big wins to get myself lined back up for another title shot. I would like to be the number one contender by the end of 2012… Right now I wanna see Nick [Diaz} go out there and take that belt and then I’ll worry about what I’m gonna do from there.”

— Jake Shields talking to Fighting Famous TV (transcribed via MMA Mania) about bouncing back in 2012

Jake Shields definitely didn’t have the best year in 2012. In his defense though, the obstacles he was faced with were nearly insurmountable. First, he had to fight Georges St. Pierre which rarely turns out well for anybody. And then he was forced to deal with the unexpected passing of his father/manager, Jack Shields, just weeks before meeting Jake Ellenberger. Considering the circumstances, it wasn’t surprising that he didn’t perform well in that fight.

A new year brings a new beginning though, and now Shields has the opportunity to get his career back on track. The only downside to that is he’s now in the hunt for the same title as his close teammate, Nick Diaz. It’s fact he’s well aware of, but he doesn’t think it will become an issue. The reality is though, as long as Georges St. Pierre or Nick Diaz hold the title, Shields is pretty much out of the welterweight title picture. If he gets a couple wins and one of them has the belt, might a move back to middleweight be in Shields’ future? It’s too soon to tell, but he says he’s open to it.

Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce/Showtime