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Jake Shields, Jon Fitch to fight for the vacant WSOF welterweight title in April

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WSOF

The World Series of Fighting welterweight title won't be vacant anymore come spring.

Jake Shields and Jon Fitch, two of the top 170-pounders in the world over the better part of the last decade, will meet with the belt on the line at a WSOF event April 1, president Ray Sefo announced Friday night on Inside MMA. Sefo did not give a location for the bout, but added that the co-main event of the card will be a middleweight title fight pitting champion David Branch against Clifford Starks.

WSOF stripped Rousimar Palhares of the welterweight belt in August after he held onto a kimura on Jake Shields after the bell. Palhares also repeatedly gouged Shields' eyes during the fight. The Nevada Athletic Commission suspended Palhares two years for the late submission last month. The Brazilian has a history of the behavior. The win against Shields was also overturned into a no contest.

Shields (31-8-1, 1 NC) is a former Strikeforce and Elite XC champion. He also fought Georges St-Pierre for the UFC title at UFC 129 in 2011, falling by unanimous decision. Shields, 36, owns victories over the likes of Robbie Lawler, Dan Henderson, Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia.

Fitch (27-7-1, 1 NC) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Yushin Okami last month. He, too, has fallen to Palhares, via controversial submission last year. Overall, Fitch has won three of his last four fights. The 37-year-old has beaten the likes of Diego Sanchez and Thiago Alves and fought to a memorable draw with B.J. Penn. Fitch fell to St-Pierre in a UFC title fight in 2008.

WSOF's next show happens Friday night in Phoenix and features an eight-man, one-night tournament to decide the next No. 1 contender to the lightweight title held by Justin Gaethje.