Jake Shields will be vying for the undisputed WSOF welterweight title at WSOFNYC against current champion Jon Fitch New Year’s Eve at the famed Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Fans may know Shields as one of the greatest welterweight fighters in the history of MMA but even the most die-hard fans may have overlooked some of these impressive facts about him.
– He Began His Career Back in 1999
Most of the fighters competing during that time have stepped away from the fight game. We’ve seen a number of fighters rise and fall during that time but Shields has managed to remain a constant in the MMA scene. Shields’ grappling-centric style has certainly helped him maintain an extended career but it’s a testament to his talent that Shields is still an elite fighter after so many years in the fight game.
– He Was Fighting and Beating the Best at an Early Stage
Usually when a fighter begins their pro career, they’re matched up with other relative newcomers. However, given the state of MMA back when Shields was starting his career, that wasn’t an option. Although his name may not hold any weight today, Jeremy Jackson was a pretty decent fighter during his time in MMA. Shields fought and beat him in just his eight professional fight. In Shields’ 11th fight, he rebounded from a loss to take out Hayato Sakurai, a fighter once considered to be among the best in the sport.
– He Once Beat Carlos Condit and Yushin Okami… In the Same Night
Beating Carlos Condit and Yushin Okami is an impressive feat on anyone’s resume. Beating both in the same night is insane. Yet, that’s exactly what Shields did back in 2009. Competing in a welterweight tournament, Shields defeated Okami in the semi-finals before taking out Condit in the finals. Shields certainly had the tougher route to the tournament win, going the full 15 minutes against both Okami and Condit while Condit’s semi-final bout lasted just over a minute.
– He’s Won Nearly Every Major MMA Title
Considering how long Shields has been in the sport, it’s no surprise that he’s found success everywhere he’s went. Shields’ mantle has the Shooto and EliteXC welterweight titles along with the Strikeforce middleweight belt. The American jiu-jitsu fighter even earned a shot against pound-for-pound great Georges St-Pierre in front of over 50,000 fans at UFC 129. The WSOF belt would undoubtedly be a monumental accomplishment in a long list of impressive feats.
– He’s a Member of the “Scrap Pack”
With so many fighters switching camps throughout the years, there’s something to be said of Shields remaining with his core group of training partners. Known as the “Scrap Pack,” the group consists of some of the best fighters in MMA like Nate Diaz, Nick Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. The group have routinely been among the best in their respective divisions along with being some of the most popular fighters as well.
– He Once Enjoyed an Impressive 15-Fight Winning Streak
Winning a MMA fight is hard enough. Winning 15 fights in a row is nearly unheard of. Competing across multiple promotions, Shields put together a 15-0 run over the course of five years. Among those wins were the aforementioned Condit and Okami along with notable fighters like Mike Pyle, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Dan Henderson and Martin Kampmann. That’s a who’s-who list of quality MMA fighters during that time.
– He’s Earned a Medal from the Abu Dhabi Combat Club
The Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Submission Wrestling World Championships is where some of the world’s best grapplers look to test their skills against one another. It routinely features stellar grappling matches and just being a part of the event is an accomplishment in itself. However, Shields didn’t settle for a participation ribbon in 2005. The grappling star wound up taking a bronze medal in the 77kg division.
– He’s a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
Although Shields fancies himself an American jiu-jitsu fighter, he holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He earned that rank from Cesar Gracie back in 2007. Gracie of course has trained fellow BJJ black belts Nate and Nick Diaz. Gracie has also worked with the famed Machado brothers.
– He’s Already Defeated Jon Fitch
Wait, what? That’s right. The two actually faced off against one another back in 2007 in a grappling match. As you’ll see, Shields would wind up getting his hand raised after the two engaged in some fantastic grappling exchanges. Of special note is Shields’ daughter performing perhaps the best commentary in the history of grappling from the video below. Although both fighters have no doubt changed drastically since that time, there has to be a certain level of confidence in Shields’ mind that he already owns a win against the WSOF champ.
– Nearly Half of his Wins Have Come via Submission
One of the best grapplers to step foot in MMA, Shields has won 12 fights via submission. Among those to tap out to Shields are former UFC champion Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Mike Pyle, Ryan Ford and Brian Foster. What’s impressive about Shields’ grappling game (outside of his skill level) is the fact his opponents know what he’s going to do but are often unable to stop him.