UFC welterweight contender Jake Shields (26-5-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) knows all about disappointment.
Shields lost a unanimous decision to UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre this past April, and he said he regrets several aspects of his performance in what he admits was an "overwhelming" experience.
Now Shields must face a tough Jake Ellenberger (25-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who has spent months calling out his UFC Fight Night 25 foe. However, Shields said he hasn't taken any of the trashtalk to heart. After all, Shields insists, he really doesn't even know who Ellenberger is.
"I don't really know who the guy is," Shields told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio
). "That's my statement. I have no opinion of the guy yet. I guess I don't even know if I don't like him or not. I just hear he keeps talking crap. I don't know. I'm not sure why because I don't even know who he is."
Ellenberger began calling for a fight with Shields this past October, shortly after the former Strikeforce champ earned a victory in his UFC debut with a split-decision win over Martin Kampmann.
"Jake Shields, you're as exciting as watching a bowl of mashed potatoes get cold," Ellenberger posted on his Twitter account. "Your days are numbered.
"Jake Shields' cardio won't be a factor if he fights me next. I won't keep him around long enough to get tired."
Instead, Shields went on to face St-Pierre. In the meantime, Ellenberger rattled off wins over Sean Pierson and Carlos Eduardo Rocha, upping his octagon win streak to four fights.
Now the two will meet in the main event of "UFC Fight Night 25: Shields vs. Ellenberger," which takes place Sept. 17 in New Orleans.
Between now and then, the trashtalk between the two will inevitably increase, but Shields said he really has no need at this time to engage in such banter.
"I don't really know much about the guy," Shields said. "I only heard of him for the first time maybe six months ago. People said this kid kept talking crap about me. I still think I've only seen him fight once, so I don't have much opinion. I'll have to watch him fight more so I can make an opinion of him. Personally, I know I don't like him, but as a fighter, I don't really have much of an opinion of him yet.
"I'm not saying he's not a good fighter. I just find it kind of amusing. This guy apparently has some kind of beef with me for some reason. Maybe I stole one of his girlfriends or something."
For Ellenberger, the fight is likely the biggest of his career to date. Relatively unknown to casual fans when he made his UFC debut in 2009, the 26-year-old has impressed in five total octagon showings.
Meanwhile, Shields – who admits he was hoping for a more high-profile opponent – looks to shed the sting of a loss to St-Pierre.
"I wanted B.J. Penn or Jon Fitch," Shields said. "Carlos Condit. I wanted one of the names people know. But you know, when the UFC calls and asks me to fight someone, I'm not someone who's going to avoid it, so I said, 'Sure, I'll take the fight.'
"I think I need to go out there and make a statement with Ellenberger. Obviously, my goal is to get that title, but I'm not really worried about that too much right now. I need to focus on Ellenberger and make a statement – show that I have made big improvements from the last fight to this."
The UFC's 170-pound division remains one of the promotion's strongest. With Nick Diaz challenging St-Pierre in October, contenders such as Penn, Fitch and Condit are all looking to earn themselves a shot at the belt. Ellenberger could enter that mix with a win over Shields, though names like Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, Mike Pyle and Diego Sanchez seem to be a fight or two away from contention.
For Shields, who had his shot but fell short, it's an opportunity to rebuild. This isn't personal. Beating Ellenberger is all about business. There are things to prove, and Ellenberger is just a hurdle on the way back to the title.
"You look back, and you think, 'Why didn't I do this different? Why didn't I do that different?'" Shields admitted. "There are so many things that I think if I would have done differently on that night might have changed the outcome. Obviously, there are things I need to improve on as a fighter.
"I'm sure I'll need at least one more (win), but I'm doing a ton of boxing right now, a ton of kickboxing, trying to fill in the holes. You look back at a fight like that, and it sucks losing, but you look at it and think, 'What could I have done different so that I could have won?' I'm working on all those aspects, and I'm going to come back at him."