He hasn’t tasted defeat in his last fifteen bouts, a streak that has taken place over the last six and a half years, yet people still want to question whether or not he is a legitimate contender to Georges St. Pierre’s UFC Welterweight Championship.
It may bother other fighters, but to Jake Shields it doesn’t matter to him. It’s just another thing he lets roll of his back the same way he does his opponents and training partners once they hit the ground. Having held championships in the Shooto, Rumble on the Rock, EliteXC and Strikeforce organizations is proof enough that Shields is for real.
If that doesn’t do it for you how about we take a look at the fighters he has defeated on his way to the main event of UFC 129 which will take place April 30 from the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Let's not forget that there will be 55,000+ rabid MMA fans in attendance, most of them cheering for GSP.
Dan Henderson a former Pride Welterweight & Middleweight Champion as well as the current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, current UFC #1 contender to the UFC Middleweight Championship Yushin Okami, former WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit. Let’s not forget he defeated the last two men on the same night.
Then there is Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Robbie Lawler, Mike Pyle, Paul Daley and the now retired Nick Thompson. That’s a pretty impressive list of opponents Shields has faced and beaten throughout his career. Yet he is only focused on the task at hand and that is wrestling away the UFC Welterweight Championship from hometown hero, Georges St. Pierre.
“Mentally & physically I feel great, everything is coming together,” said the Ceaser Gracie trained fighter. “I’m working on everything from wrestling to BJJ to kickboxing as well as pushing my conditioning in preparation for what is the most important fight of my career.”
Knowing how important this fight is to him and his legacy, Shields knows that this is no ordinary fight and therefore he needs to step it up more than a notch. Fighting in front of GSP’s fans, Shields knows he will need to be more focused than ever.
“I train hard for every fight, but as I have said this is my biggest fight so I am doing everything I possibly can in order to be the best fighter I can be,” explained Shields. “I don’t feel as though fighting in Canada will put me at a huge disadvantage, once the door to the cage shuts, it’s just me and him.”
It’s no secret that St. Pierre’s biggest strength is his wrestling so Shields has gone out and enlisted the services of some of MMA’s top grapplers to help him prepare for this fight.
“I’ve trained with Ben Askren in the past and will be bringing in Chael Sonnen to lend me a hand. I plan on bringing in as many top level wrestlers as I can,” Shields told Bleacher Report.
Having won the aforementioned championships during his career, Shields believes that the UFC title will not only cement his status as one of the best fighters, but will fill a void he has felt while fighting for the other organizations.
“All of my titles mean a lot to me, but when it comes down to it the UFC title is the biggest championship out there,” Shields said confidently. “This is without a doubt the title I have always wanted the most. I will always value my other belts, but this would be the icing on the cake.”
It wasn’t hard to tell that the Shields felt a little bit of pressure the first time he stepped inside the Octagon against Martin Kampmann at UFC 121, but now that he has that under his belt he is more than prepared the second time around.
“I was excited to be there when I fought Kampmann; it was cool to be there. I have been watching the UFC for 11 years and waiting for my opportunity to fight here.”
Many fans and pundits alike want to know what makes Shields different than all the other opponents who have tried to take the UFC title away from St. Pierre. Shields feel he is more than prepared to answer them.
“I feel as though I have the right mix of jiu-jitsu and wrestling, I don’t think he has fought a guy like me before,” offered Shields. “I will never quit, I will keep pressing forward until I find a way to win.”
The UFC has gone out of their way to promote GSP as one of their top stars and in doing so they highlight his character and the type of fighter he has grown into. Shields has his own opinion on why he feels St. Pierre has been so successful.
“The guy puts in the work; he trains really hard day in and day out. He is never satisfied as evidenced by how he is always going to different places and trying new techniques in his attempt to always get better,” said Shields.
Shields is so focused on making sure he is prepared for anything come April 30 so that he doesn't lose focus and wind up in trouble. There isn't any situation he hasn't visualized happening in the middle of the Octagon come next Saturday in Toronto.
“I can only train all aspects of my game to be prepared for whatever happens because you can’t be unprepared for any situation. If you get too caught up in the fight going in one direction and it heads in another you are going to panic out there,” Shields explained.
“I don’t know if he is going to stand with me or if he is going to try and take me down. That is why I make sure to be prepared in all of the areas the fight could wind up in.”
Is Shields prepared to become “Canada’s Most Hated Man?”
“That is something I think I can live with if you know what I mean,” laughed Shields.