I believe Jake Shields belongs in the top 10 pound for pound fighters list. There. I said it. I can't think of any fighter in MMA that is this good that gets as much hate as Shields. There is always something. He's boring. He lays and prays his way to wins. He doesn't get good ratings. He takes the easy way to wins, etc. But here are some facts:
1. Jake Shields hasn't lost since 2004, going 14-0 in that span.
2. Notable wins over Dan Henderson, Nick Thompson, Paul Daley, Yushin Okami, Charuto Varissimo, Carlos Condit, Mayhem Miller, and Robbie Lawler. At the time of his victories over Henderson, Daley, and Lawler he was considered a big underdog against fighters coming in red-hot and highly rated.
3. He's won titles in two weight divisions for organizations that, yes, are not the UFC, but were major second-tier promotions with good fighters in them.
But last nights performance was masterful.
-- photo via sherdog.com
BE's staff predictions with everyone picking Henderson. Mauro Ranallo was wrong when he said that Henderson mauls jiu-jitsu fighters because Wanderlei Silva doesn't fight the BJJ game. Henderson had problems with Rousimar Palhares in their fight and of course got smashed on the ground in round 2 in the Anderson Silva fight. So perhaps so many of us had Hendo's crushing KO of Michael Bisping and forget about how close his last fights have been. Still, coming of wins over MMA notables Rich Franklin and Bisping he had all the momentum.
And while Shields showed a lot of stones in getting through the 1st round after being blasted three separate times in this fight and keeping his cool, what was remarkable was the way a blown-up welterweight could physically maul a middleweight who had to cut 15-20 lbs and has won titles at light heavyweight. It’s a testament to his technique and strength he as acquired in his move to middleweight. And while we all right hail George St-Pierre for always wrestling and mauling because we know it’s the best game plan for him, for some reason Shields takes hell for it. The only REAL hole in Jake's game his ground n' pound is impressive in the ground part, but not so much the pound. He has very weak hands with no power from the top and could really do well to move to the UFC so he can throw elbows. But on the ground he was strong on Henderson, continually passing his guard, going for submissions, and using that top game to completely wear Hendo out so when it did go back to the feet he was clearly tired. You noticed the fight was never stood up with Jake on top? He kept working and never got tired.
I know the brawl afterwards has marred the fight, but I can understand Jake losing his cool. Since Henderson was signed and this fight made, it has been assumed he would lose. Henderson was so red-hot people where talking about fighting Moussasi next, and maybe Fedor. The question was not if Henderson would win but how many titles in Strikeforce would he take. The company itself was basically setting him up to fail, nobody in the fight game picked him to win. I can understand how a continually undervalued and under-appreciated fighter would get pissed at some *ssclown mugging in the middle of the biggest and most important win of his career. People seem to want to blame the Gracie Camp, and with a lot of good reason, but that was Jake's moment and Miller, jealous that Shields is where he wishes he could be (and he does, why else would he try and demand a rematch right away), showed no class in not allowing Shields to have his moment.
If Shields were smart, he would just bolt to the UFC. That promotion would know what to do with him and he would finally get the chance to be a monster at his natural division and prove that he is one of the best fighting the best in the world. So while others will hate on Shields from his style, to his fights, to what happened after the fight I appreciate what he did last night and the performance he put on and the man he beat. NOBODY thought Jake Shields would win, and he didn't just catch a choke-hold early, he went out and for four out of five rounds he dominated the great Dan Henderson.
Cheers to you, Mr. Shields.