On February 10, 2017, the sport of MMA was rocked to its very core following the publication of an official list of fighters that had been released from the UFC. Although some fighters were already known to be set for release, the publication was a resounding final word on what was still, undeniably, a major roster cull.
Amongst those that officially exited the most electrifying MMA franchise in the world was Shane Campbell. While he is still a long way from any chance of reinstatement to the UFC roster, the green shoots of recovery are already in evidence. Most recently, he beat Tristan Connelly for the Unified MMA lightweight title on June 9, and he has always had the support of the media in his home country. However, the decisive factor of any return to UFC would be the current climate within UFC fandom.
Campbell’s last five fights have seen him falter at the highest echelon of MMA, but a recent recovery suggests the 30-year old Canadian may not yet be finished.
At present, UFC fans crave a foil to endless rounds of grappling and floor work, with such elements never, in any case, popular with a predominantly American UFC audience. In consummate striker Conor McGregor, UFC fans have such a foil, but his future may well lie away from the Octagon if he defies the critics, and the bet365 odds of +400, in his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Indeed, striking specialists will be at a premium in the event of McGregor’s defection to boxing, thus giving Campbell an opportunity – provided that he can find the right trainer and better condition himself for the rigours of the UFC.
Campbell boasts rich experience despite poor UFC record
A K-1 World semi finalist kickboxer with a 62-9 record, the man billed from Kelowna made his UFC debut against John Makdessi, at UFC 186 in April 2015. It was a short-lived debut for Campbell, who was utterly humiliated by his opponent, with a flurry of punches from Makdessi ending the fight via TKO just seconds before the end of the first round. It was a premature start to his UFC career, but for Campbell, victory would be attained at the second attempt.
These were happier times for Campbell, who is seen here meeting out some vicious punishment upon Jerrid Burke in May 2014.
In the undercard of UFC Fight Night 74, Campbell won via unanimous decision against Elias Silvério, but from then, his situation would all too quickly go downhill. A hat trick of defeats – including a UD, a submission and a TKO – saw Campbell’s credibility in tatters. The last of those three losses was by far the most humiliating, with the TKO coming at the hands of Felipe Silva through a first-round body punch from which there could be no feasible recovery.
In conclusion: A long and difficult road lies ahead
Whether or not Campbell was still adapting to the UFC, a body punch TKO defeat is as humiliating as it gets, and it was clearly the final straw. With his UFC release coming just six months later, and a ‘relegation’ to Unified MMA, a now 30-year old Campbell is reflecting on two straight wins and a first championship win in five years. A long, slow and extremely difficult road, to MMA’s top table, lies ahead – and it is one not necessarily guaranteed to end in salvation.