UFC 129 from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada will be held April 30th.
This sold out show is stacked with impressive fighters including the UFC debut of Ben Henderson, a light heavyweight bout between the legendary icon, Randy Couture, and former champion, Lyoto Machida, and a featherweight match-up for the ages between the No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter and current UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, and the technically proficient and very lethal Muay-Thai kick-boxer, Mark Hominick.
In addition to these tremendous fights, the current UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre, will defend his title for a sixth time against the Cesar Gracie prodigy and former Strikeforce and Elite XC champion, Jake Shields.
With Las Vegas placing Jake Shields at a near 5-1 underdog, the experts have their doubts that Shields will leave Toronto the new UFC welterweight champion.
As the insurmountable odds stack up against the No. 1 contender, the following are five keys to victory for Jake Shields to secure his place as the new UFC welterweight champion.
Enjoy the fights.
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Todd Seyler. "Like" me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter @magnus06
Jake Shields' debut in the UFC was much anticipated and was embraced with a tremendous amount of publicity and hype.
The talk surrounding his first fight in the UFC was worth more than Jake Shields' performance.
Sputtering through round two and surviving in round three on fumes in his cardiovascular gas tank, Shields secured a split decision victory over the hard-hitting Dane, Martin Kampmann.
During the post-fight press conference, Jake Shields stated that his pre-fight weight cut routine was not in line and the drop in pounds affected his performance.
Promising never to make that same mistake again, Shields, who walks around at roughly 190-plus pounds, will need to properly drop the necessary pounds to face the ultra-conditioned champion for a potential five-round fight.
If cardiovascular conditioning becomes an issue for the No. 1 contender, St-Pierre's relentless pace will maximize on Shields' weakness and Georges will once again retain the UFC welterweight championship.
During each post-fight press conference, the pupils of Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu make a point to thank the Brazilian wizard for his tutelage and instruction.
Highlighting this tremendous fight school are the current Strikeforce welterweight and lightweight champions, Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Additionally, Nick's brother Nate Diaz holds a brown belt under Cesar Gracie. Rounding out the fight team are Daniel Roberts and Jake Shields.
Jackson Submission Fighting has become legendary within mixed martial arts. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Greg Jackson has developed some of the greatest ultimate fighters in history.
Champions training under the instruction of the Jackson Submission Fighting stable include Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt, Carlos Condit, Brian Stann, Shane Carwin and many more. In short, the who's who of MMA has spent some time working with Greg Jackson including the current UFC welterweight champion, Georges St-Pierre.
With so many developed champions working on their fight game with Greg Jackson, how will Cesar Gracie adequately prepare Jake Shields for a triumph against St-Pierre?
I do not know the answer to that question. What I do know is that Cesar Gracie is a brilliant mind and not only a tactician of the sport, but a student as well.
If I needed a sound game-plan designed to combat the diversity and skill-set of the greatest pound-for-pound fighter on the planet in Georges St-Pierre, I would place my faith in Cesar Gracie.
Known for his amazing grappling ability, Jake Shields must enter the Octagon on April 30th in Toronto with his best stand-up striking game to date.
Challenging pre-eminent strikers in his past, like Dan Henderson, Paul Daley, and Robbie Lawler, Jake Shields has taken the center of the cage against those with better striking ability, but has exited the victor.
Georges St-Pierre is the second greatest striker in mixed martial arts today, behind Anderson Silva. A master of changing angles and planes and attacking with all eight weapons, GSP is technically proficient and capable of stopping Jake Shields at any moment.
St-Pierre is known for his relentless pace and frenzied pressure. Jake Shields will need to match Georges St-Pierre in the stand-up striking exchanges for the opportunity to take Georges to the mat where Jake has the advantage.
If Jake Shields' stand-up game has holes in it, the current UFC welterweight champion will expose that weakness and exploit his deficits. This game-plan was maximized by St-Pierre against Josh Koscheck with his barrage of jabs that not only demoralized the contender, but broke his orbital bone in his face.
It will be no surprise to anyone that Jake Shields' game-plan includes taking Georges St-Pierre to the ground and securing a submission or passing for a dominant position and delivering a savage beating.
This opportunity will exist only if St-Pierre is threatened by Shields' stand-up game.
I am not providing any new insight with respect to the fact that Jake Shields will want to fight Georges St-Pierre on the ground.
Easier said than done; Georges St-Pierre is known for his tremendous take-down defense. Elite level wrestlers have tried unsuccessfully in the past to ground GSP, but his movement and athleticism have allowed the champion to dictate the fight on his feet.
A highly decorated grappler with tremendous jiu-jitsu skills, Jake Shields has accumulated 11 submission victories in 26 of his total wins.
Besides earning a tap-out victory, Jake Shields' mastery of his ground-game enables him to pass effortlessly into more dominant positions to deliver a brutal ground-and-pound attack.
Additionally, his ability to transition from position to position allows Shields to control the fight on the ground where Georges St-Pierre does not have the same level of jiu-jitsu ability.
If Jake Shields is able to take this UFC welterweight championship fight to the mat, there is no doubt that his hand will be raised in victory.
Georges St-Pierre's list of accolades are some of the most impressive of all time in mixed martial arts.
He's the 2008, 2009 Fighter of the Year, a two-time and current UFC welterweight champion who has successfully defended his title on five separate occasions, has an overall MMA record of 21-2, and is Sherdog.com's pound-for-pound greatest fighter on the planet—just to name a few.
If Jake Shields believes that he will catch an ill-prepared GSP with an overhand right, as Matt Serra did, or expect St-Pierre to be humbled by Shields grappling experience, as in Georges' first fight with Matt Hughes, Jake is sorely mistaken.
Georges St-Pierre will be focused, driven, and determined to defend his championship on his home soil in front of 55,000 screaming Canadians who cherish and regard St-Pierre as their icon.
The dynamics of mixed martial arts allow for a slight glimmer of hope in the form of luck. A slip, a missed calculation, leaving an arm behind while maneuvering for an advantageous position; any of these possibilities and countless more can provide Jake Shields the moment he needs to capitalize and defeat Georges St-Pierre.
Should Jake Shields rely on the slimmest of chances of luck? Absolutely not. However, Georges St-Pierre is the champion for very good reason. He has defeated all the top contenders he has faced. He has rightfully earned his position at the top of the MMA throne as the greatest fighter on the planet.
With the cards stacked against Jake Shields, for his sake, I hope he is Irish. He will need all the luck available to become the new UFC welterweight champion.