While he may not enjoy celebrity status or the backing of any major corporate sponsors, make no mistake about it – Jake Shields has one of the most impressive records ever amassed in the history of mixed martial arts. And on April 30th, 2011, Shields will challenge the reigning champion, George ‘Rush’ St. Pierre, for the UFC welterweight title live on pay per view.
While the media spotlights shines on the dynamic and charismatic current champion, hardcore fans know that St. Pierre is facing the most significant threat to his belt yet. A Brazilian JuJitsu black belt under famed instructor Cesar Gracie, Shields has systematically dominated every opponent he has faced since 2004. His record of wins reads like a veritable “whose who” of the MMA world. Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawlor, Paul Daley, and Marvin Kampmann have all fallen at his hands, along with many other equally notable, if not recognizable, opponents. He doesn’t see the fight with St. Pierre going any differently.
“If it goes how I want it to go, I’ll go in there and tap him out in a minute. But, realistically, it’s gonna be a war…I see it going at least a few rounds, back and forth, but I see myself finishing him”
Shields knows his strengths and knows the surest way he can ensure a victory. While he acknowledges that he has spent more time working on his striking, he is realistic in his view on how he can win over a fighter with St. Pierre’s ability to take opponents down at will:
“… I’m going to submit him. I know he’s not easy to submit. But I’m going to be hunting for submissions from every angle. I think he’ll take me down. I think I’ll be on my back this fight, but I can fight off my back.”
While all of the pre-fight hypes is clearly focused on St. Pierre with pundits, oddsmakers, and fans all picking the current champ to emerge victorious in their bout, all of that favoritism could be just the fuel Shields needs to pull of one of the biggest upsets in MMA.
“I love this role. I love getting looked past,” Shields said during a press conference at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. “It’s exactly the same as [when I fought Dan] Henderson. Strikeforce was trying to throw me out on a loss, but I definitely had different plans. I went out there planning on spoiling it… and that’s exactly what I’m planning on doing here.”
Both St. Pierre and Shields have earned reputations as intelligent fighters who stick to their game plans. However with so much on the line it may not be difficult for either fighter to leave their emotions out of the cage. Whether he sticks to the plan or not you can be sure of one thing, Jake Shields only has one goal on April 30th, to bring the welterweight title home.