UFC 129: 5 Reasons Georges St. Pierre Needs to Finish Jake Shields

Jared McKiernanContributor IApril 22, 2011

UFC 129: 5 Reasons Georges St. Pierre Needs to Finish Jake Shields

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    St. Pierre's popularity will only grow if he can find a way to finish his opponents.

    We all love Georges St. Pierre. He possesses that combination of skill, work ethic, and class rarely seen in sports. He is classy in victory and in defeat (both times). He is one of the UFC's most marketable fighters and second biggest pay-per view draw, trailing only Brock Lesnar.

    But, he's also been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism regarding his inability to finish fights. He is one of the only fighters in the sport capable of absolutely dominating a fight while still playing it safe. We get the idea he's not truly unleashing his best stuff and, for that, it leaves us wanting more from the welterweight kingpin.

    For how talented and driven a fighter GSP is, there is no reason he shouldn't be finishing more of his fights.

    And that's just what he'll have to do at UFC 129 when he takes on fellow wrestler, Jake Shields.

    Here are five reasons why GSP must finish Jake Shields...

To Remain in the Conversation for Pound-for-Pound Best

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    Jon Jones leads the crop of fighters who have stormed their way to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings in the past year.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    For awhile, the discussion for the pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world started and ended with three names: Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, and Georges St. Pierre.

    Fedor has since dropped two straight to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio SIlva, taking him out of the running.

    Silva remains a force of destruction, running his UFC record number of consecutive wins to 13 after a first round knockout of a game against Vitor Belfort.

    Silva's still at the top, but three more human wrecking-machines have taken Fedor's place at the top. Three more fighters who, unlike St. Pierre, have consistently finished their opponents.

    The number of fighters you could now make a case for the number one spot for is currently five.

    That's St. Pierre, Silva, Jose Aldo, Cain Velasquez, and Jon Jones.

    While St. Pierre certainly has the credentials to match any of the others, he is the only one of the bunch who hasn't been able to finish fights consistently. And if greatness is measured by anything, it's by ability to consistently finish fights—not just dominate your way to an unanimous decision, as St. Pierre has done in four of his last five outings.

To Cement His Legacy

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    In order to finish a fight, sometimes it requires a fighter to gamble and try something that could backfire on them if it doesn't go as planned. But, playing it safe can also backfire on you, as St. Pierre is learning.

    While I wouldn't exactly classify St. Pierre's recent title defenses as boring, they are certainly lacking one thing: a finish. Obviously, in the world's most prominent MMA promotion, finishing fights isn't always easy, but when you consider all of GSP's talent, it's hard to believe he hasn't "coasted" a bit.

    There may be no fighter as image-conscious as St. Pierre, not that that's a bad thing. It's one of the main reasons he's such a professional both inside and outside the octagon. He's stated in multiple interviews that he wants to be the greatest ever. However, his drive has hurt him as much as it's helped him.

    St. Pierre wants to win fights much more than he wants to finish them, but if he wants to go down as the single greatest fighter of all time, winning alone won't get him there.

    The biggest threat to GSP's legacy is, as it turns out, himself.

To Expose Jake Shields as What He Is: Predictably One-Dimensional

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    Jake Shields has an effective fighting style, but executing his gameplan against St. Pierre will be his toughest task to date.Valerie Macon/Getty Images

    Shields goes in for the single-leg takedown! And another one! And another! Then he lies on top of his opponent and scores the most painfully-boring unanimous decision you've ever seen. Sound familiar?

    Of course it does. Jake Shields is a wrestler, and a good one. But, if he is unable to utilize his single-leg takedown on St. Pierre, he'll be in for a long night, or a short one.

    UFC Commentator Joe Rogan believes that Shields has the best ground game at welterweight. But, if he's unable to get it to the ground at all against someone with outstanding takedown defense, like GSP, what does he do?

    His stand-up game is mediocre at best and he isn't exactly known for his superior conditioning, as was evident by his fight with Martin Kampmann.

    Every Jake Shields fight is the same. He knows his bread and butter and he never steps outside of his comfort zone.

    The only problem is that GSP might very well force him right out of that comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory.

To Prove His Fight Game Is Still Evolving

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    After a streak in which each victory was more dominant than the last, GSP finds himself in a plateauJeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    In the midst of a win streak marked by performances that outdo the one before it, it's becoming harder and harder for GSP to up his game. There was a period where he was constantly praised for adding a new element to his game each time he fights.

    But now, the champ finds himself in a bit of a plateau. Complacency has crept up on him and he seems to be in need of some extra motivation.

    Here's some: He's never fought as good a wrestler as Jake Shields, he's on the verge of a super-fight with Anderson Silva, and he's fighting in front of the largest UFC crowd ever.

To Ensure the Anderson Silva Super-Fight Still Happens

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    Anderson SIlva will have to defeat Yushin Okami and GSP will have to handle Jake Shields for the fight to happen.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

    Anderson "The Spider" Silva has been considered in many polls as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but many feel GSP is only a half-step behind.

    With all the draws and close decisions meriting rematches in the UFC recently, it's safe to say St. Pierre needs to finish Shields and eliminate possibility of the judges choosing the wrong winner. A St. Pierre vs. Shields would postpone the tentatively scheduled super-fight with Anderson Silva.

    Fans can't have that, the UFC can't have that but, most importantly, GSP can't afford for that to happen. Taking and winning a fight with Anderson Silva would do wonders for St. Pierre's career, but he needs to be sure not to look past Jake Shields.