UFC Fight Night 25 headliner Jake Shields has been quiet leading up to his fight against Jake Ellenberger on Saturday night in New Orleans. Understandably so, considering Shields lost his father and manager, Jack Shields, just three weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Shields released his first public statements on his mindset heading into Saturday's fight.
"Just in the last few weeks, late in the camp, unfortunately I lost my dad, who is also my manager. I had a really tough time. It took me a moment to figure out what I wanted to do but I figured the right thing to do would be to continue to fight with him being my manager and my biggest supporter," Shields said.
"I pretty much figured within a few minutes I was going to move forward and fight so of course it's been little tough since then but I don't think it's really affected my training. When it's been time to focus and train I've been able to pull it together and got some of the best workouts and sparring sessions ever in the last couple of weeks."
Ellenberger recently said on The MMA Hour that he would have understood had Shields pulled out of the fight.
"I'm always sad to hear when something like that happens," Ellenberger said. "Unfortunately it did, (but) we're still going to fight. I can totally understand if he wouldn't be in the right realm to fight. It's definitely something tough to go through."
When the fight against Ellenberger was first announced, Shields seemed to imply that he was not all that familiar with the gritty welterweight, however, he seems to have gained a level of respect for 24-5 Ellenberger.
"He's a tough up-and-comer," Shields said. "He has a lot of knockout power and is a good boxer and wrestler. His jiu jitsu is not the strongest but overall he's a tough guy that comes forward with a lot of heart so I'm not underestimating him."
Shields is coming off a welterweight title loss to Georges St-Pierre at UFC 129. The loss was his first in seven years and 15 fights, which led him to change a few things in training.
"I made some small changes that made a big difference and feel the best I've ever felt. I fixed my diet and switched to being fully vegan. I've been traveling a lot less and was able to get my camp closer to home. Before, I was doing a lot of traveling but I got everything where I mostly train in San Francisco, which is nice. That gives me time to rest between my workouts so I feel great right now."
UFC Fight Night 25, headlined by Shields vs. Ellenberger, airs live on Spike TV on Saturday night from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.