Jake Shields vs. Cung Le: Duck-Off

Darren WongSenior Analyst INovember 11, 2009

STUDIO CITY, CA - MAY 19:  MMA fighter Jake Shields attends CBS's 'Elite XC Saturday Night Fights' Press Conference at CBS Radford Studios on May 19, 2008 in Studio City, California.  (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)
Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Jake Shields wasted little time after his latest victory before calling out Cung Le.

According to Shields, Le is afraid of fighting him, and should have fought him instead of returning against Scott Smith.

Is Cung Le ducking Shields? Well nobody knows more about ducking than Jake Shields.

A few years ago, Shields had the opportunity to sign with EliteXC, rather than sign with the UFC, where he would have been matched up against tougher competition.

After EliteXC went out of business, Shields could have used that opportunity to try to move to the UFC. But instead of even trying to get out of his contract, Shields not only went along with Strikeforce, but instead, it appears that he has signed an extension.

In interviews, people have asked him about how many fights he has remaining on his Strikeforce contract. His answer? "Two or three I think, I don't know." That doesn't sound like the answer of a man eager to test the waters against the top competition.

Yet even in Strikeforce, Jake is still ducking the best possible opponents. So far, Shields has faced two relatively easy style matchups in Robbie Lawler, a guy who can't defend his submissions, and Jason Miller, a guy who can't defend against his wrestling. There are far worse matchups for Shields.

The worst matchup for Shields is new Strikeforce acquisition, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, who aside from having a better submission grappling pedigree, also has better standup.

Jacare will be fighting Matt Lindland on the same night as the return of Cung Le, and if he is successful against Lindland, he'll be worthy of a title shot, but Jake Sheilds doesn't seem interested in that matchup either.

Instead, Shields wants to fight Cung Le, a fighter who has never, ever been forced to display his submission defense or wrestling. This seems like a good stylistic matchup for Shields.

Because of the stylistic matchup, it wouldn't even surprise me if Le didn't want to fight Shields, but it has little to do with fear. Facing a guy like Anderson Silva or Rampage Jackson might bring out a little bit of fear, given that these fighters can cause serious pain and injuries. Against Jake Shields, the worst thing that can happen is a submission hold, but even then a simple tap prevents most injuries.

If Cung is afraid of anything, maybe he's afraid of what a submission loss would do to his movie career.

Of course, Cung Le isn't blameless in all of this. He hasn't exactly been facing the best competition either. He could have signed with the UFC at one point in time, but instead took a route that he thought would be better financially.

Also, there certainly are currently worse stylistic matchups for Le than Scott Smith, who is likely willing to try and trade punches and kicks with the Sanshou champion.

We already know that for Cung Le, there are things more important than proving that he is great fighter. He wants to have an acting career, which is another good reason why he is fighting against Scott Smith, and not Jake Shields.

If he fought Shields and won back his title, the title would once again be suspended when Cung Le returns to acting. Right now, a win over Scott Smith doesn't bring those kinds of commitments. Given his acting aspirations, his fighting future is uncertain at best, so fighting Smith is actually just a way to stay busy, and maybe brush off a little bit of the ring rust accumulated over his hiatus.

Ultimately I can't really say that I blame either fighter for ducking opponents. Sure, they could be fighting tougher competition, but there's clearly more to life than that, at least unless you really want to be known as the greatest. They've simply made business decisions.

After all, I don't go down to my local restaurant and call the managers cowardly for not challenging McDonald's.

But it annoys me that Jake Shields is calling out Cung Le, because this is perhaps one of the worst cases I have ever seen of the crow calling the raven black.