Lots has been hyped about Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields, and rightfully so.
Without boring you with the standard "Strikeforce fanboys say Shields will win while UFC fanboys say GSP will win," let's go into a statistical comparison.
GSP: Current record is 21-2, won 91 percent of fights, 61 percent of wins by finish, 38 percent of current win streak won by finish, current win streak at eight fights.
Jake Shields: Current record is 26-4, won 86 percent of fights, 50 percent of wins by finish, 54 percent of current win streak won by finish, current win streak at 15 fights.
The two really are quite similar, though there is a distinction that should be noted—namely, the way the two have lost.
When you get two fighters as talented as GSP and Shields, not only can you get distracted in the evident similarities but in the details.
So, rather than look at the two by positive variables, let's look at them in negative variables.
GSP has never lost by decision. His conditioning is arguably the best of any other MMA fighter, and the man is a true technician in the Octagon. He dictates the fight on his terms and at his pace.
However, GSP has lost by finish...twice. Once he was arm barred by Matt Hughes, who is certainly no slouch, and then he was finished by TKO at the hands of Matt Serra. I know what you're thinking: GSP should probably avoid guys named Matt.
Yes, he redeemed himself twice over against Hughes, and a few nut shots and some vaseline later, he has successfully defended his title five times. Yes, he redeemed himself against Serra who, according to many, simply got lucky. However, the fact remains that GSP can one, be bested on the ground and two, can be bested striking.
Where GSP cannot be beaten in the game of conditioning, he can be bested and beaten, whether by skill, chance or what have you.
The fact remains that the two times he lost, he was finished. No fluke judging, as in the case of Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill.
Moving on to Shields...as many know, Shields hasn't lost in nearly seven years. However, he has been beaten: four times total, once by knockout and three times by decision.
What does this tell us? Shields can be bested in the standup department, though this was during his third fight which was over 11 years ago. Compare that to GSP getting manhandled by Serra four years ago and bested by Hughes six years ago and it puts things into perspective.
When he faced Dan Henderson in his last Strikeforce title defense, Shields weathered a round one storm comparable to Edgar vs. Maynard II and Lesnar vs. Carwin.
Quite frankly, he was beaten up, and what did he do? He came back to dominate Hendo for two rounds, making the decorated wrestler look like an amateur on the mat.
In all fairness, GSP came back to really dominate Hughes, taking him down at will and he beat Serra badly, kneeing and punching him until it was stopped.
So, where lies the difference?
Has GSP ever come back from the brink of a loss to dominate an opponent and decisively win? No.
Has he ever been bested by a more powerful opponent? No. Has Shields? Yes.
The bottom line is that GSP has never proven to have heart, and this is the biggest difference between him and Shields. My prediction is that this fight will force GSP to rely on his heart, and where Shields has recently proved his, GSP is completely lacking in that arena.
Normally, GSP would slide away from a title defense with a slick, one-sided decision or systematically earned submission or TKO.
However, Shields is not an ordinary fighter.
To give you a bit of perspective, Anderson Silva has lost twice since the last time Shields lost, which was back in 2004. Understand now?
For nearly seven years, Shields has found a way to win. He has come back off of nearly losing, and he has dominated some of the most notorious grapplers and strikers in MMA: Hendo, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Yushin Okami...
In sitting down to make a prediction for this fight, I decided to stop focusing on how GSP and Shields typically win and I decided to look at the holes in their games.
Basically, Shields has proven to have less holes in dire circumstances. In addition to being positively similar to GSP in terms of success and dominance (all while having a bigger win streak), there is a significant negative distinction between the two, which I predict will make a gap big enough for Shields to capitalize on and beat GSP.
When Serra tested GSP's heart, he failed. When Hendo tested Shields' heart, he succeeded.
When GSP was getting beaten by Serra, he quit. When Shields was getting beaten by Hendo, he succeeded.
Although these two are very similar and the fight truly could go either way, I believe that Shields will be the fighter to test GSP's heart, and this is where I believe he will fail.
GSP has quite a bit to lose, and a whole bunch of drones for fans who simply can't see him losing. I predict he will lose big in his hometown.
What say you?