UFC 129 Fight Card: Is Georges St-Pierre Bout Jake Shields' Best Chance at Gold?
As UFC 129 nears - and with it, Georges St-Pierre's UFC Welterweight Championship defense against Jake Shields - a good chunk of the discussion centers around whether this will be GSP's last fight at 170 pounds, and if he will move up to middleweight to challenge Anderson Silva should he beat Shields Saturday night.
However, it's worth asking whether we're considering the right fighter to move up to 185.
St-Pierre has never seemed to be champing at the bit to go up to 185 to fight Silva. At a Q&A session with fans on Friday, UFC President Dana White discussed Shields' teammate, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz, as a potential opponent for GSP should he choose to remain at 170.
Shields, on the other hand, has been a champion at 185 pounds in Strikeforce, and as many have noted in the weeks leading up to this fight, was dominant in his fight last year against current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson, much more so than he was a few months later against Martin Kampmann. Shields has spoke often during the buildup to this fight about how long he has wanted to fight GSP, but should he be unsuccessful on Saturday night - and should GSP be uninterested in moving up to 185 - it might be worth considering whether Shields is the right man to fight Silva.
In his unsuccessful bid for Silva's title this past August, Chael Sonnen may have given the blueprint for how to beat Silva, when he used his wrestling-based attack to put Silva on his back, and dominate him with ground-and-pound. Given that Shields' primary strengths are his wrestling and his jiu-jitsu, which suggests that he could be well-suited to follow that blueprint without giving up the late triangle choke submission that Silva was able to use to retain his title against Sonnen. Given that Shields' resume includes wins over Dan Henderson - the last man before Sonnen to win a round with Silva - and Silva's next challenger, Yushin Okami, it may be that Shields is in the wrong fight if he wants his best chance at UFC gold.
Whenever he comments on a Rich Franklin fight, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan says that even though "Ace" was the UFC Champion at 185 pounds, he's much better at light heavyweight. While it's far too early to count Shields out against GSP, he might be the more likely challenger to Silva out of tonight's main eventers.
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