A pair of mixed martial arts icons in Northern California are set to do battle this weekend and both have plenty to prove. San Jose’s Jon Fitch takes on Josh Burkman at WSOF 3 on Friday night, while San Francisco’s Jake Shields takes on Tyron Woodley at UFC 161 on Saturday.
American Kickboxing Academy’s Fitch is making his promotional debut for World Series of Fighting after being cut by the UFC and is fighting with a chip on his shoulder. He was considered by many to be out of place in the octagon, but Fitch can become a big fish in a small pond at WSOF. He takes on another former UFC welterweight in Josh Burkman.
Burkman, who fights out of Salt Lake City’s The Pit Elevated Fight Team, is making his third appearance in WSOF. He most recently defeated Aaron Simpson at WSOF 2 via knockout. After that victory he called Jon Fitch, requesting the bout be for the first WSOF title.
Fitch and Burkman will meet in the main event, but it will not be for a title. However it has been floated that the winner could become the future World Series of Fighting welterweight champion.
For Fitch, it's an opportunity to prove that he is still a Top 10 welterweight and has a lot left to give a promotion.
Another former UFC welterweight contender who is out to prove he's still a threat is San Francisco's Jake Shields. Shields drops back down to welterweight after a no-contest versus Ed Herman at UFC 150. Shields had won that bout, but it was overturned by the commission after a positive drug test for Jake.
It has been a rocky road for Shields since he returned to the UFC, and now he welcomes Woodley, a former Strikeforce contender, to the octagon.
In a rejuvenated welterweight division for a promotion willing to cut fighters, this could be do-or-die for Shields. A win would greatly help his chances and an impressive win should allow him to move up in title contention.
This is another case of a fighter trying to prove he can still hang with the best of them and is still in the prime of his career. Shields has been a fan favorite and always shows up to fight. Expect nothing less against Woodley and for a determined Shields to show up in the octagon.
Shields vs. Woodley is the final preliminary bout on FX this Saturday night. Fitch vs. Burkman is the main event for WSOF 3 on NBC Sports Network.
Nitesh Dutt is a Productions Assistant at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @NiteshDutt.