Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is recognized in all MMA circles to be among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. But, then again, Jake Shields is there as well. Whether Shields should have won his last bout at all is debatable, but either way his dominance over the last few years cannot be ignored.
The real question in this fight is who will control the fight on the ground. We may have to get used to the fact that GSP will get taken down in this fight. But, can Shields control the champ once he gets there? Will St.-Pierre try and keep it standing? We can only speculate for now. I am going to offer the five reasons why I think that GSP is a lock to beat Jake Shields on April 30.
1. GSP will be the bigger man in this fight.
It is true that Shields used to fight at Middleweight, but this is now his second fight back in the 170-pound division, and his body has slimmed down. He is not used to the weight cut; because of that, I think he will be walking around with less weight to cut than last time. On the other hand, the champion has been at 170 for his entire UFC career and is very used to the weight cut.
He has even added bulk to his frame over the past year and has still had no problem making weight. The fact that GSP is more seasoned at this weight should mean that he will be the bigger man. GSP will use his size advantage to control the Octagon. He will neutralize the biggest advantage of his opponent by actually out-wrestling him and controlling where the fight will go.
2. St. Pierre is also a superior striker.
It is not a stretch to say that St. Pierre is head and shoulders above Shields in that aspect of the game. St. Pierre has eight wins by knockout and has dropped tough fighters like Jon Fitch, Matt Hughes and Jay Hieron. Shields is not powerful on his feet at all. If you watch his fights, it is pretty obvious that he isn’t much of a threat with his standing strikes. If St. Pierre uses his able sprawl to avoid a takedown or two, it will hurt Jake’s confidence, and the champion can then land some good jabs and powerful kicks.
3. St. Pierre is stronger and faster than Jake Shields.
Shields is a grinder and a sometimes finisher. St. Pierre plays that game too, but he is a stronger, faster version of Shields that finishes more. The bottom line here is that Shields won’t be able to take GSP down at will like he did to Jason Miller and Dan Henderson in Strikeforce.
The welterweight champion has a faster sprawl and more agility than either of those men, and his strength is formidable. His training partners at Greg Jackson's camp have attested to that and many of them are heavier than him, not to mention elite martial artists. The more likely scenario is that GSP will be able to sweep and counter if in trouble, and his sprawl will be tested but not broken.
4. St. Pierre now sits at the top of the welterweight division with little threat to dethrone him.
If he defeats Jake Shields at UFC 129, he really will have defeated most challengers and reestablished his dominance. There are still a few future fights that people will still want to see, such as a rematch with Jon Fitch, a possible fight with Nick Diaz and even a third B.J. Penn fight. But, none of these is getting any buzz from the fans. The fans have been screaming for over a year to see St. Pierre take on pound-for-pound mainstay and UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
This possible matchup will make “Rush” even more focused and prepared. If Georges were to lose, the potential matchup with Anderson would become less marketable, and he would miss out on possibly the largest payday to date in the young sport of mixed martial arts.
There is also a potential fight for Silva this summer with Yushin Okami that needs to happen. These types of fights have been happening for over a century, and it is high time that MMA started to put these matches together. That being said, I think St. Pierre will be just a bit more motivated than Jake Shields going into Toronto. St. Pierre would stand to lose a lot more by possibly missing out on the biggest fight of his career. Whereas if Shields loses it would just be a fighter who lost to the best and has won 15 of 16, still being near another title shot. The possibility of a future fight with Anderson Silva will make St. Pierre even more motivated and is yet another reason that he will prevail on Saturday, April 30.
5. Georges St. Pierre’s waist is the good old home town advantage.
The three previous occasions when St. Pierre fought in Canada, he delivered thorough beatdowns to the likes of Matt Serra, B.J. Penn and Josh Koscheck. St. Pierre does not get nervous fighting at home. Instead, he feeds off of their energy and achieves greatness right before the eyes of the world. The fight is in Toronto, and it will be held before a North American record audience of over 50,000 fans.
Since it is in Canada, the crowd will heavily favor the champion. At this level of competition, this doesn’t factor in that much to an athlete the caliber of Jake Shields. However, no one can deny that if it was held in California, it would be a different atmosphere entirely. Once again the advantage goes to St. Pierre and is one more reason that his hand will be raised at UFC 129.
There are many ways to dissect a fight, and this one can be chopped up a thousand different times over. I am simply trying to give some things that I find are obvious advantages for St. Pierre, and why I think he will win. Shields is a pound-for-pound top-10 guy as well, and a person could also find reasons he could win; I just don’t think he will be able to knock this king off the hill.
At least, he won’t be able to in this fight. Maybe in the future he will prove me wrong. St. Pierre is a better striker, has a great sprawl, is stronger and faster, more motivated than ever, fighting at home and he will have his hand raised in Toronto.