Jake Shields went from contending for UFC gold, to fighting for his spot in a matter of months.

After entering the UFC on a 15-fight win streak, Shields was defeated by Georges St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight title. Following a knockout loss to Jake Ellenberger, Shields rebounded to defeat Yoshihiro Akiyama earlier this year.

Now, with his confidence back, Shields has been working on improving his striking and is awaiting word on a future opponent, as he told Heavy.com’s Duane Finley recently.

I came so close to the title and fell short. Now I feel like I’m close again. I’ve beaten the current (interim) champion, Carlos Condit, and Martin Kampmann, who is a top contender right now. I know I can beat these guys, and it all depends on me working my way back up and getting my shot. I’m not sure what’s next, but hopefully the UFC will give me a contender so I can get back up where I want to be.

With everyone aware of his excellent submission skills, striking has become a focus for Shields while working with the crew at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

My striking still has holes, but it has gotten a lot better. I am going to continue to work and develop my skills and I believe in the next year, I’ll be able to stand with the best strikers out there.

The list of contenders in the welterweight division is long right now, and with the belt tied up between Condit and GSP, it remains to be seen which direction Shields is sent off in.

Photo credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting