Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Georges St. Pierre/Jake Shields: Comparing Training Camps

During the broadcast for UFC Fight Night 24 Joe Rogan interviewed Jake Shields about his upcoming fight on April 30th against Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship. The interview itself was pretty standard and I wasn’t really paying attention until Joe asked, “tell us how training camp has gone in preparation for this title fight.”  Jake Shields’ answer to that question is exactly why he is going to lose to GSP at UFC 129 in Toronto.

“So far things are going great man.  Camps going good.  You know we just had Court Mcgee out here last week…we got Chael Sonnen coming out this week things are going good.”

From that one answer every fight fan out there should know that Jake Shields doesn’t stand a chance against GSP and here’s why:

Jake Shields has never fought anyone like Georges St. Pierre before.  Sure he has fought athletic guys and guys that can wrestle but he has never faced a fighter that is even close to being on the same level as GSP.  Yet despite that glaringly obvious fact Jake Shields has not changed the way he has prepared for this fight at all and by his own admission is going about training camp like its business as usual.

Now Shields may be keeping a lid on exactly what’s happening at his training camp but the UFC has planned a UFC Primetime special leading up to this fight so the cameras will be there making lying a waste of time.  Plus I don't really see Jake Shields as a fighter that plays mind games so really I think he is telling the truth.  If that is indeed the case then he is in serious trouble.

Looking at the current champions in the UFC they all have one thing in common, they train with great fighters at great camps.  Anderson Silva trains at Black House alongside some of the best fighters in the world (Jose Aldo, the Nogueira brothers and Junior Dos Santos).  Jon Jones and GSP both train at Greg Jackson MMA as well as Grudge Training Center and Cain Velasquez trains at American Kickboxing Academy.  The champions surround themselves with other elite fighters because they know the only way they can get better is by training with the best.

Jake Shields meanwhile is training for a fight against Georges St. Pierre by wrestling with Court McGee.  Not to rip too hard on Court McGee who is a talented enough guy but he is barely a prospect in the UFC Middleweight division and isn’t exactly well known for being a great wrestler.  So I wonder what could Shields possibly hope to gain by training with him? 

The rest of Shields’ training partners at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu are a little more respectable as Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz all train with Shields regularly.  These types of training partners may suffice when preparing to fight guys such as Martin Kampmann and Jason “Mayhem” Miller but when preparing for a fighter like Georges St. Pierre you need to get outside your comfort zone and train with the best otherwise you are just going to get steamrolled.

Now I know that both Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez are champions in Strikeforce but I don't put much weight into victories tallied in Strikeforce as I feel that the talent pool and level of competition falls well short of the UFC (an issue I would gladly debate with anyone at anytime).  That also only covers half the issue (good training partners) as the fact that Shields is doing nothing to step up his game for a superior opponent is the main concern I have.

When it comes to training with the best and incorporating new training partners/coaches there is no one better than GSP.  When preparing for his fights Georges is constantly working with different fighters and trainers making sure that he is always evolving as a fighter.  

For example leading up to his fight against Josh Koscheck Georges trained with world renowned boxing coach Freddie Roach in order to improve his striking. Through his training with Roach GSP learned how to better incorporate his jab into his striking.  He then subsequently used that jab to smash Josh Koscheck’s orbital bone and dictate the pace/location of that fight on his way to earning an easy victory.

That’s the kind of effort Georges put into a fight against a wrestler.  He very easily could have outwrestled Koscheck like he did the first time they fought but instead he changed his gameplan and caught Koscheck completely off guard as no one expected Georges to stand and strike with that big right overhand Koscheck likes to throw. 

Jake Shields on the other hand is the same fighter today as he was back in EliteXC.  He isn’t very good on the feet and prefers to take guys to the ground and submit them using his jiu-jitsu.  In his last 3 fights he has gone to a decision and in his fights against Dan Henderson and Jason Miller he was in a dominant position for pretty much the entire fight and couldn’t finish either fighter.  Clearly Shields needs to make some adjustments to his game but it appears that he hasn't done that.

All I know is that if Jake Shields goes about preparing for this fight like its business as usual and treating it like it’s just any other fight where he can take his opponent down and go for submissions attempts he is going to be soundly defeated.  

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