We are less than two weeks away from UFC 129, and in a year that’s been filled with great fights (and fight cards) UFC 129 looks like another. Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida plus the UFC debut of Featherweight Champ Jose Aldo is reason enough for me to buy the PPV, but the Main Event really has piqued my interest. I have to admit, I really don’t know what to expect in the fight between Jake Shields and George St Pierre. That might seem odd when considering the champ, St Pierre, will be defending his UFC Welterweight title in front of 55,000 of his closest friends that night. What else can be said about GSP. He has a record of 21-2 and those two losses were avenged in style when St Pierre destroyed Matt Hughes (twice) and Matt Serra in rematches. If there was ever a guy fighting in his prime, it would appear to be the 30 year old St Pierre.
From all accounts St Pierre has had a phenomenal training camp including time spent with top boxing trainer Freddie Roach. As well rounded as St Pierre’s game is, it’s hard not to focus on his boxing skills. St Pierre used a JAB to break the orbital bone of Josh Koshcheck. A jab! The punch most guys use to set up power punches was strong enough to break the orbital bone of Koshcheck. That’s insane. I have covered a lot more boxing matches than MMA fights, and I don’t ever remember a jab being delivered with enough force to break a bone. Seems like an easy night for the Canadian fan favorite. Maybe it will be, but for some reason I think Jake Shields is going to be a tougher opponent than most people expect.
I was in Anaheim when Shields made his UFC debut. He looked terrible. It was his first fight at 170 after spending the previous two years at Middleweight. Shields admitted afterward that he had a terrible time cutting weight, causing him to look sluggish in his win over Martin Kampmann. They key word in that last sentence is “win”, because even though Shields looked terrible, he was still able to do enough to win. It was similar stories in previous tough fights for Shields. Dan Henderson KNOCKED HIM OUT with a right hand in the first round of their fight, but Shields somehow figured out a way to survive the round and won the fight against the current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion.
Jason “Mayhem” Miller had a brutal rear naked choke locked on in his fight against Shields. Too bad he didn’t get it locked in until there were only five seconds remaining in the third round of their Five round fight. Shields managed to hang on, and did enoughover the final two rounds to retain his title.
Shields is currently riding a 6 year 15 fight win streak. A win streak in which I am sure there were plenty more examples like the ones mentioned above where Shields seemed on the verge of losing, but somehow weaseled out a win.
To win 3 straight fights in this sport is impressive. To win 15 in a row against the competition Shields has faced is unheard of. Matt Serra had a record of 9-4 the night he knocked out St Pierre. His biggest win to that point had been a split decision over Chris Lytle. In comparison, Shields has defeated world class fighters such as Henderson, Yushin Okami, Paul Daley and Miller over the past six years.
I have a buddy who works for one of the casinos in Vegas. I was surprised when he told me St Pierre was a 5-1 favorite. 5-1? Is anybody in MMA truly a 5-1 favorite anymore? I guess if anyone could generate those kind of odds it’s St Pierre, and the atmosphere in the Rogers Center with 55,000 screaming fans cheering on their countryman can’t hurt.
Shields is trained by Cesar Gracie, the same Cesar Gracie who trains Gilbert Melendez and Nick Diaz, two guys who had picture perfect game plans for their recent wins in San Diego. Will Gracie be able to do it again? Can Shields make it 16 in a row, while making anybody that bets on him a lot of cash? Or in the end will St Pierre live up to the hype and send the huge crowd home happy? Do I do the right thing and not bet, or do I throw some cash down on Shields looking for a nice payday. Who the hell knows, I just wish the 30th would get here a little faster.