Despite being a heavy underdog to Georges St. Pierre in the main event of UFC 129, Jake Shields has moved past that, believing it’s his fate to hold the UFC welterweight championship around his waist.
Following Anderson Silva’s knockout victory over Vitor Belfort in February, the only match-up the MMA world was talking about was Silva vs. St. Pierre. Should the two ever meet inside the Octagon, it would likely determine the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Unfortunately, the reality is that as much as we would like to believe that St. Pierre has cleaned out the entire 170 lbs. division, he still has one last credible opponent in Shields. All other potential contenders have had their chance and were unsuccessful in dethroning the champion.
With Shields, there is a possibility that this could be the toughest test St. Pierre has faced in his championship reign. He has won 15 straight fights and over the last seven years, held three different world titles competing at welterweight and middleweight. Additionally, he has arguably the most technically sound grappling skills in his weight class.
Prior to signing with the UFC, Shields was scheduled to defend his Strikeforce middleweight championship against the legendary Dan Henderson. Similarly to his fight with St. Pierre, fans did not give him a chance against Henderson and many believed Henderson’s striking would get the best of him. Although it was a scary first round for Shields, who was nearly finished after getting caught an overhand-right, he came out and showed the world why he is one of the best in the world by smothering Henderson on the ground for the remainder of the bout to earn him the decision nod.
In his UFC debut, Shields took on Martin Kampmann. The fight saw Shields once again use his dominant wrestling to earn the decision, though it wasn’t as one-sided as the bout with Henderson. The win moved Shields into the number one contender spot for the UFC welterweight championship.
In interviews leading up to the event, Shields and his camp have all openly stated that they have full confidence that they will be bringing home another championship to the already decorated team led by Cesar Gracie. When it comes down to it, Shields poses a real threat to St. Pierre’s title. Whether this will truly be a tough match for him is something we will have to wait and see.