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Shields, Fitch to Meet for Vacant WSOF Title in April

Fred Brooks/Icon Sportswire

World Series of Fighting welterweights Jake Shields and Jon Fitch will have at least one more chance at obtaining promotional gold when the two meet for the vacant 170-pound title at WSOF 29 on April 1, WSOF President Ray Sefo announced on Inside MMA Friday night.

Both of the former UFC title contenders have already had one shot to obtain the WSOF title, with both Fitch and Shields dropping a submission loss to former welterweight titleholder Rousimar Palhares at WSOF 16 in December 2014 and WSOF 22 in August 2015, respectively. Palhares would go on to be stripped of the title, however, after the latest of a handful of controversial submissions caught the attention of the promotion and the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “Toquinho” has since been suspended two years and forced to vacate the belt.

A former Strikeforce welterweight champion, Shields is 3-2 in his last five contests, with his only losses coming to Palhares and ex-Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard. Once considered the best welterweight fighter on the planet behind UFC kingpin Georges St-Pierre, Shields went 4-3 with one no-contest while competing in the UFC.

Fitch, meanwhile, is about one month removed from a unanimous decision victory over former UFC middleweight title contender Yushin Okami at the time of the announcement. He is also 3-2 in his last five fights, with his two losses coming against Palhares and Josh Burkman. A staple of the UFC’s welterweight division for many years, Fitch was released from the promotion after going 2-2-1 from 2010-13.

Also featured on the card is a middleweight title fight between champion David Branch and Clifford Starks. Branch, undefeated in his last seven, is also WSOF’s champion at 205 pounds.

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