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UFC 121: Jake Shields Beats Martin Kampmann by Split Decision

Former EliteXC welterweight champion and Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields finally made his UFC debut on Saturday, and he barely escaped with a tough split decision win over Martin Kampmann at UFC 121.

It was a tough, back-and-forth fight that could have easily gone either way, but two judges scored it for Shields, 30-27 and 29-28. One judge scored it for Kampmann, 29-28.

Although the bout was hyped as Shields' chance to earn a shot at the UFC welterweight title, he probably wasn't impressive enough to justify a title shot. A fight between Shields and Jon Fitch would make a lot of sense next.

Shields wanted to take the fight to the ground and that's exactly what he did just 30 seconds into the first round, getting Kampmann to the ground and getting on top. Shields got into mount and Kampmann looked like he was in a world of hurt, but Kampmann stayed composed and managed to get back to his feet. Surprisingly, Kampmann wasn't able to do much of anything to Shields in the stand-up, so with Shields' control on the ground he had to win the round, 10-9.

Early in the second round Kampmann landed a huge knee that knocked Shields down and appeared to have him badly hurt, but Shields was relentless and got right back up, took Kampmann down and got into side control. For his part, Kampmann was better than expected on the ground, managing to get back up to his feet every time Shields took him down. Kampmann landed a second hard knee in the round and deserved to win it, 10-9.

In the third round Shields started to look exhausted, and even when the fight went to the ground it was Kampmann who was in control early on. But when Kampmann made the mistake to keep the fight on the ground, Shields found a reserve of energy in the final minute, managed to get Kampmann's back and almost sink in a rear-naked choke before the horn sounded to end the fight. It was a very close third round that could have gone either way.

Shields' record improves to 26-4-1, while Kampmann falls to 17-4.

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