This past Saturday on CBS, Jake Shields claimed the vacant Strikeforce middleweight championship by defeating Jason "Mayhem" Miller. Shields was able to control the majority of the action with his superior wrestling and ground control.
The only time Shields was ever in any danger was at the end of the third round when Mayhem sunk in a deep rear naked choke. Shields was able to remain calm and weathered the storm until the end of the round. Had there been 30 more seconds on the clock, Mayhem Miller would have left the Sears Centre with the gold wrapped around his waist.
While Shields's win was impressive, it proved that he lacks the ability to compete with the truly elite fighters in the world. Mayhem is an extremely tough and crafty fighter, but the fact is Mayhem Miller is not elite. Shields found himself in numerous dominate positions but was unable to capitalize and finish.
Shields may have that middleweight gold wrapped around his waist right now, but if he were to fight in the UFC he would not even be able to compete with lightweight champion BJ Penn. Shields would not even make it to the championship rounds against Penn.
In his match with Mayhem, Shields showed tremendous takedown ability and had little to no problem putting Mayhem on his back. BJ Penn is pound-for-pound one of the best in the world and is renowned for his takedown defense.
Penn's balance and flexibility make him near impossible to takedown and control. Even Randy Couture, former world-class wrestler, has stated that Penn is extremely difficult to take to the ground and once there has an uncanny ability to just stand up.
On the mat, Shields and Penn are pretty much a scratch, but I would still give the advantage to Penn. Penn, like Shields, is a world class grappler. Shields may have more accolades but that may be because Penn has focused his energy wholly into MMA. Penn's ability to contort and manipulate his hips and legs creates too many variables for his opponents to contend with.
The grappling game would be a very interesting matchup between the two because both are high level, but this fight would sadly never make it that far.
Jake Shields has rudimentary striking at best while BJ Penn has some of the best technical boxing in all of MMA. Penn is extremely heavy handed, he utilizes the jab with precision and when he smells blood in the water he goes in for the kill. Penn would simply dissect Shields on the feet before finding a way to end the fight.
Congratulations Jake Shields, you may be the Strikeforce middleweight champion but you would stand no chance against UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn. If you can't handle Penn how do you think you would fare against Georges St. Pierre or, god forbid, Anderson "The Spider" Silva?
Enjoy the belt because you proved nothing other than you lack the killer instinct and ability to finish from a dominate position, and know that you stand no chance of being a force in the UFC.