What happens when you take two fighters, well known for their ground skills, and lock them in a cage for 15 minutes? In many cases, we are treated to a slug fest. It may not be the most technical match, but athletes that respect their opponent's weapons on the ground can sometimes make conscious choices to not take it there. You can also go the other direction, and hope for that magical moment when the fight does hit the ground, and we get treated to an amazing grappling display. This is what I hoped for with Big Nog and Werdum this past Saturday night, and I was not disappointed.
When Jake Shields and Tyron Woodley step inside the octagon this weekend for UFC 161, I'll be crossing my fingers that the fight goes straight to the mat. If Jake has his way, that's exactly how it will go. I'm a big fan of someone who can recognize when their foe has a weapon that can be a game changer in a fight.
Woodley's power was evidenced in his last fight when he knocked out Jay Heiron in a mere 36 seconds at UFC 156. When that thunderous right lands, it's devastating. Shields has already factored in that dangerous element into his game plan, and hopes to avoid it during their fight.
I recently conducted a quick interview with Jake, and got his thoughts on game planning, a mistake he thinks Tyron may be making in his camp, and the only loss he really wants to avenge. Here's what he had to say:
Game Planning for a Power Puncher
I just know he has that big power shot, so I'm going to try to avoid his big power right hand. That's his main punch. He's got a little bit of a left, but he's got a big right. He's just a dangerous fighter, especially in the first three or four minutes, because he's got that knockout punch. I'm trying to cover that, and fire back with my own punches and kicks, and put the pressure on him. I want to go out there and not make it a close fight. I want to finish him. I want to dominate him so there's no doubt as to who won the fight.
When you put two guys in there with similar styles, you get good match-ups. We're both good wrestlers, we're both good at scrambling, we can strike - I think it's a good stylistic match-up. Styles make fights. I think everyone's had a couple boring fights, and they've had exciting fights, too. I think it comes down to which fights you watched. Maybe you watched the wrong fight, and it wasn't good. It's all about styles, and I plan on going in there and hunting for submissions.
The cut is much easier now. The first time I fought at 170 in the UFC, I had done three or four fights at 185 just prior to that. My body had gotten bigger and I had gotten used to it, It's definitely a lot easier to make the cut now. It's still not fun to cut to 170, but it's not as bad a cut as it was in the past. I eat cleaner now and try to keep my diet on track year round now, and I don't eat as much. I run more, and my weight stays good as a result. I feel much healthier year round.
Woodley's Mistake With Focusing On Fight Tape Footage
Personally, I only watched a couple of his fights. I try to go out there and do what I do, and not make big changes. Yeah, you want to look for tendencies, but I think changing yourself too much to accommodate your opponent's style is a big mistake. Not to mention, I made some changes for this fight, so I'm not going to be the same fighter that he's been watching. I want to go out there and force him to fight my fight, not go out there and fight his.
I definitely think I could withstand his (Woodley's) punches. I mean, anything is possible, there could be a flash knockout with those little gloves, so of course anyone can be knocked out, but I think I could take it. I've taken Henderson's biggest right hand he could throw. I think Woodley hits hard, but I don't think he hits as hard as Henderson does.
For me, I feel like that's the only loss I've had that needs to be avenged, for several reasons. I feel like the stoppage was too early and having lost my dad just a couple weeks before ... there were multiple things going on with me. Of course, he won that fight, and I'm not going to say that he didn't, but I just feel like things should have gone differently, and I would like another shot at that.
Return To Competition Circuit
Actually, I'm thinking I'll return soon. I would love a chance to compete for Metamoris. I almost did this last one, but it was too close to my fight. I've talked to the guys at Abu Dhabi a little bit, so who knows. Maybe this year I'll be able to hop back in there and do some grappling. Nothing is for sure, but I did talk to the guys at ADCC and they invited me out there, and I've also talked to Metamoris, so it's definitely something I'm thinking about.
You can follow Jake via his Twitter account, @JakeShieldsajj