After weeks of gloating that he’s going to snatch Jake Shields away from Strikeforce, Dana White will finally be able to make the fighter an offer he can’t refuse … if Strikeforce doesn’t match it, that is:
Shields’ manager and father, Jack Shields, today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that he will begin non-exclusive negotiations tomorrow [FL note: aka today].
“The options are all good,” Jack Shields said, though he did not confirm whether Strikeforce had yet offered a new contract.
Exclusive negotiating periods are put in place to protect a promotion’s investment in a fighter and are common to high-profile talent. The exclusive period is usually followed by a matching period where the promotion has the option to match offers from other companies.
Shields’ contract is currently in such a “matching period,” though the length of that clause is currently unknown. Until that expires, Shields is not a true free agent, and Strikeforce can elect to match any potential offers the fighter might receive from the UFC.
Strikeforce hasn’t used Jake on any cards in areas where fighter pay is disclosed, but if they picked up his deal with EliteXC without any changes, they were paying him 50k per fight. Considering Jon Fitch makes that much just to show up, I don’t think the UFC will have a problem putting together an offer that Strikeforce can’t match. Still, as nice as it is to be a free agent with two suitors hanging over you, there’s still a downside to Jake Shield’s situation. If the numbers work out so that Jake helps the UFC more by bleeding Strikeforce’s coffers, they might just go that route instead like they did with Dan Henderson.