Jake Shields – The Best Welterweight Outside of the UFC
By Justin Bolduc
PunchDrunkGamer’s Justin Bolduc caught up with top ten welterweight, Jake Shields to discuss his upcoming EliteXC championship bout against UFC veteran Drew Fickett.
PDG: So you’re finally getting the title shot you’ve been looking for…
PDG: How do you feel about that?
Jake: I’m just finally glad I get a chance for the title. My last fight was supposed to be for the title, but it turned out it wasn’t, so this is nice. It’s just another fight, but the fact that it is for the title is obviously good.
PDG: What are your thoughts on your opponent, and what unique challenges do you think he’ll bring to the table?
Jake: He’s a very tough, well rounded guy. He has a ton of experience – thirty-one wins, and he never quits. He can strike and he has dangerous elbows but ultimately I think I match up real well with him. Pretty much everything he offers I am going to have an answer for.
PDG: You had previous been getting grief regarding your fighting style from fans and media, but recently you’ve been really going after guys and finishing fights big – either smashing guys on the ground or choking them out. Were the comments motivation at all for you, or has your more aggressive style come from your progression as a fighter?
Jake: I think a little of both. Naturally as I got better I wanted to go out there and prove a point – that I can put people away. And I have been putting people away in the first round. That is something I am going to try to continue to do. Obviously every fight can’t go that way, but I am going out there and trying to be as aggressive as possible and end the fight.
PDG: As one of the top guys in your division, who would you most like to fight in your weight class and who do you feel would pose the biggest challenge to you?
Jake: Right now if I could pick anyone it would be Georges St. Pierre. He’s just looked so good and he doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses. I think it would be a tough fight but it would be a fight I would love. I also think Jon Fitch would be another good fight. I mean I know Jon Fitch, and I’ve trained with him, but I just think that it would be a really fun fight for both of us.
PDG: You have some wins over guys who are doing very well right now, and are even overshadowing you in terms of visibility with mixed martial arts fans. Is that something you think about, or do you just take things patiently?
Jake: I’m being patient but I feel like it is my time. I have done a lot in this sport and it’s now time to get my recognition. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I think with the title I will be a lot closer and will get a lot more exposure. Right now it is just my job to go out there and put Fickett away and get some more exposure from there.
PDG: One of the guys you beat that is doing very well right now is Carlos Condit (WEC welterweight champion). Since you guys last fought you have both come a very long way. Is a rematch with him something that you would be interested in, despite the fact you’ve already beat him?
Jake: Yeah. It’s not like something I am pursuing, but it is definitely a match I would do. I’m not sure if it is true, but someone said he was calling me out to fight him again and if that is the case I’d be more than happy to give it to him.
PDG: Your record is full of a bunch of top tier guys and not just padded – with wins over guys like [Hayato “Mach” Sakurai], Frank Trigg, Carlos Condit, [Renato “Charuto” Verrisimo], and Yushin Okami; how do you feel about your accomplishments up to this point, and what do you see for the future?
Jake: I think I’ve had quite a good career so far. Like you said, I have a very good record and an unpadded record – everyone I have fought is good, and I am proud of that. For me though, that is just the start, I have a bright future. I’m young and I already have a ton of experience. I am getting into the spotlight now, and I feel like I am ready for anything.
PDG: What has been your toughest fight to date, and which one has been your most memorable?
Jake: I’ve fought a lot of tough guys so it is hard to say, but I know that Yushin Okami sticks out. He was really tough and I underestimated him a bit, and it ended up a really close fight. [Kazuo Misaki] is another guy – I went in there on ten days’ notice, hardly knowing anything about him and then it turned out he was a pretty tough fighter [laughs]. But I’ll tell you the most memorable fight was Hayato Sakurai. I was pretty much unknown and I went out there and beat Sakurai, who was ranked number two in the world. That was quite a good feeling.
PDG: Obviously at your base, you are a very strong grappler. Mixed martial arts is clearly your priority now, but are grappling competitions something you would still like to do now or in the future?
Jake: Definitely, I love grappling – that is what got me started. Clearly fighting is my priority now – it is turning into a huge industry and the money is there. But grappling is something I would definitely like to do some more.
PDG: As far as grappling goes, is there anyone out there you’d like to compete against or roll with?
Jake: Man, I’ve rolled and competed with a ton of top guys, so I guess no one really sticks out. I would love to go against Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, he is one guy I’ve never had a chance to compete against or roll with.
PDG: I love “Jacare” [laughs].
Jake: Yeah, exactly, I love watching him. I’d love to compete against him or train with him – either way I’d be happy [laughs].
PDG: “Jacare” is why I started going to jiu-jitsu.
Jake: Yeah, his style is so exciting. I almost got to train with him when he was down in San Diego.
PDG: EliteXC is rising fast as one of the top competing MMA organizations out there. How do you feel about how they are treating you and how do you feel about stuff like their super promotion of guys like Kimbo Slice?
Jake: To me that is a little funny. He’s popular, and you have to do what you have to do for business, but for me as a fight fan that is bad because I’m not too into freak show matches – but if it sells than I guess you have to look at it from a business stand-point too.
PDG: How does EliteXC’s treatment of you compare to how other organizations have treated you?
Jake: I think they treat me pretty good, but I’d like a little more promo – I mean they put a lot into Kimbo and Gina [Carano]. But they said they are going to give me some more, so hopefully they follow through with their word and give me the big push they have been promising. Other than that I am happy with them.
PDG: Going into the fight against Drew, who are your sponsors?
Jake: Right now my manager is figuring out the details, but I know I have Affliction for sure – which will be a great sponsor, a big company to have, Fairtex, Stagr, Dominance Fight Gear, and Alpha Dog.
PDG: Do you have anything left to say to wrap things up?
Jake: Thanks to all my friends, fans, and team.
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