Georges St. Pierre is widely recognized as the second best fighter on a pound for pound basis behind Anderson Silva. But close on his heels is number four ranked welterweight, Jake Shields. Both men will meet for the first time in the octagon to compete for the UFC welterweight championship on April 30th, 2011 at the Rogers Arena in Toronto in what is sure to have the collective MMA world holding it’s breath.
With a winning streak that stretches back to 2004, Shields is looking to collect his 16th victory in a row against a man who has gone undefeated in the last four years. While Shields’ dominance in the sport, both as a middleweight and as a welterweight, is unquestionable, he will be facing a champion known for his almost chameleon like ability to adapt his fighting style to capitalize on his opponents weaknesses and dominate a fight.
While both men are amongst the most respected fighters in the UFC, here are 5 reasons why George St. Pierre will retain his championship belt at UFC 129.
Yes Jake Shields is a former Strikeforce middleweight champ and is slightly taller than his opponent. However, cutting weight can be extremely taxing on a fighter’s strength and endurance and could pose a problem for Shields. George St. Pierre however, has competed as a welterweight for his entire career. He will undoubtedly find the weight cut to be much easier than for his competitor. Plus, St. Pierre is massive for the division, possessing muscular size and strength not found in any other fighter in his weight class. Look for St. Pierre to easily handle Shields in the clinch and against the fence.
2. Freddie Roach
As anyone familiar with the Ultimate Fighter Season 12 knows, St. Pierre has been training with legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach. St. Pierre thoroughly dominated the hard hitting Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 using little more than his jab, something that Roach can take credit for. Shields on the other hand, while well rounded and capable of going toe to toe with such renowned strikers as Paul Daley, is much better known for his submission skills. On the feet, look for St. Pierre to out strike Shields by a large margin.
No one in the welterweight division can come close to matching the speed and athleticism of George St. Pierre. He explodes into his takedowns, making world class wrestlers look like tackling dummies while avoiding their own takedown attempts at will. The same goes for his striking. While he hasn’t displayed much knockout power in his last several fights, he still lands plenty of spinning back kicks and other high risk maneuvers with ease. Shields is best when on the ground in the top position. Knowing how hard it is to catch St. Pierre, it is difficult to see Shields being able to achieve a dominant position for long.
4. It’s Good To Be King
St. Pierre is at the top of the welterweight food chain and has dominated its top fighters- sometimes on multiple occasions. With a winning streak stretching back to 2007 he has defeated Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, and many others. In short, he has seen it all. He has had everything thrown at him but the proverbial kitchen sink and there is very little that Shields is bringing to this fight that he hasn’t seen before.
5. Home Field Advantage
Ok, Ontario is not his hometown, but try telling that to the 50,000 plus fans who have sold out the Rogers Arena. St Pierre feeds off of the energy of his fans and pride is a very big motivator for the current champion. Sure, Jake Shields is a professional and the negative effects that a hostile crowd might have are negligible, but the effect of 50,000 frenzied MMA fans cheering on their hero is going to be difficult to totally ignore.
St. Pierre is a superior striker, has a ferocious takedown, and can out-sprawl anyone. He is stronger, faster, and more motivated than ever fighting in his home country before the largest crowed ever gathered for a UFC event. Look for GSP to end the night with his hand raised and one more opponent vanquished.