Before writing this article, I decided to do something risky, something downright ill-advised.
I watched all of Jake Shields' fights from the past three years.
Hold the commotion, please. I know you are admiring my bravery right now, but I had no choice in the matter.
I had to do it.
Sure, I missed three-quarters of the fights passed out on my couch sucking my thumb and drooling a little, but dammit, I tried!
If that horribly exaggerated tale did not make my point clear, let me say it in a different way: Jake Shields is boring.
Like, really, really super-extra boring.
He has a knack for taking what should be a spectacular matchup and turning it into a fight where the only people going to sleep are the fans, and that is just bad.
While he is one of the most boring fighters in recent memory, Jake Shields, for all my criticisms of him, is something else, too: He's a world-class fighter.
Actually, he is a world-class grappler who happens to be in the fight business, but for all intents and purposes, let us call him a fighter from here forward.
It may surprise you, but Shields actually has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport.
Can Jake Shields become a middleweight contender?
Check this out:
Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit, Mike Pyle, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Jason Miller, Dan Henderson, Martin Kampmann and Yoshihiro Akiyama.
What do they all have in common?
Indeed, indeed! They all lost to our man, Shields.
Now, boring or not, you do not beat guys at this high of a level on a consistent basis by being a crappy or even average fighter. You have to be good, really good, in fact, and Shields is really good.
He may not be flashy and he may not be interesting out of the cage, either, but his skills cannot be taken lightly.
Recently, Shields fell on hard times after being blitzed by Jake Ellenberger and handled by Georges St. Pierre, but I can even defend these two fights for my buddy, Shields.
Against Ellenberger, his dad died late in his training camp. His dad was also his manager, but that is just icing on the legitimate excuse cake.
Listen, if you lose your father before a fight, you will not be the same. This game is so mental, and to think that this did not affect Shields, regardless of what he said, is crazy. It did, and it showed. I will not argue that Ellenberger would beat him again in a rematch, but it would not be that bad.
Against GSP, Shields put up a better fight than anybody since "Rush" seized the title, and that alone is commendable. He actually won Rounds 4 and 5 against the Canadian, and that is better than any of his other challengers can say.
So, is Jake Shields legit?
Of course he is.
You do not do what he does and not be legit.
Making this decision easier for me, I think Shields always looks better at middleweight. Do not forget how he handled Dan Henderson—that was a huge win. Henderson was bigger than him and considered a better wrestler than him, but Shields dominated him en route to a decision victory.
If a man possesses Shields' high level of grappling, he will be a threat in any division in today's MMA landscape.
Jake Shields might not be the most exciting guy or fighter in the world, but the dude is good, and he deserves respect for what he has done and what he can accomplish inside the Octagon.
He may or may not be able to hang against the top guys at 185 lbs, but his track record and grappling prowess tells me he can.
Finally, Jake, Ed Herman is one of my favorite fighters in the UFC (he's a fellow ginger, so I'm a little biased), so please do not make me fall asleep during your fight with him tonight.
One fan who appreciates your skills but hates to watch you utilize them.