History is in the making when the biggest UFC event in history so far takes Toronto, Canada by storm. UFC 129 is only days away and the anticipation to this card can be cut with a paring knife.
The main event, showcasing one of the best pound-for-pound MMA fighters in the history of the sport, Canadian Georges St. Pierre, has been subject of all kinds of scrutiny and analysis by fans and experts all across the board.
Of course, the UFC welterweight champion rides as the favorite in this match, but challenger Jake Shields is mentioned as probably the toughest challenge in GSP’s career so far, but is it really? Is Jake Shields the guy who can beat Georges St. Pierre, or at least win a round against him?
Let’s not forget St. Pierre hasn’t lost a single round in what, the last thirty rounds he’s fought?
If you’ve been following The MMA Truth, you must have read me saying that I will always use mathematics and probability to weigh and measure two fighters before making a prediction.
And yes, I know, cliché, “it’s MMA and anything can happen,” but most of the times the numbers never lie.
So, before we start breaking down this welterweight showdown, let’s establish the grounds for comparison.
First, let’s compare each of the fighters’ last three performances—who they fought, the position of that opponent in their respective rankings, their MMA background, how the fights ended, and over all performance.
Second, let’s try to establish who has faced the toughest competition along their fighting career by picking out who has faced more top ten or top five competition in their respective divisions.
Third and finally, let’s analyze who has the most complete set of tools among all the areas in MMA, or who is the most well-rounded fighter as we commonly refer to it.
Let’s start with the challenger…
Jake Shields (26-4)
Has not lost a fight in fifteen outings .
Last three opponents: Martin Kampmann, Dan Henderson, Jason Miller
Vs. Kampmann – Split decision, not a very impressive performance. A lot has been attributed to the rough weight cut for this fight. Shields commented in the press conference following this fight that he had to cut twenty pounds the day before the fight, a fact that a lot of people take as either irresponsible (for he had plenty of time to cut the weight) or simply not true.
This last performance actually is the heaviest factor weighing down on Shields along the betting lines for this fight. A lot of people still aren’t sure he is fit for the welterweight division.
Shields lost at least two rounds in this fight.
Vs. Dan Henderson – Unanimous decision, dominated a heavily gassed ‘Hendo’ who after assaulting and nearly finishing Shields in the early part of the first round, deflated and basically laid on the matt while Shields controlled top position. Shields clearly loses the first round.
In the press conference for Hendo vs. Babalu last year, Henderson stated that the cut to middleweight had a serious impact in his cardio and condition. Shields was not able to finish or seriously hurt Henderson, just controlled top position for most of the five round fight.
Vs. Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller – Unanimous decision, took down Miller at will who seemed lazy against the cage but who occasionally showed signs of life, especially in the last seconds of the third round where Shields was amazingly saved by the bell after Miller sunk in a very tight rear naked choke. One judge gave two rounds to Miller, two other gave Miller only one round.
Neither Kampmann or Henderson are nowhere to be found in any welterweight or middleweight top 10 ranking list. Shields took the middleweight title from ‘Mayhem’ Miller, who at the time was probably the only opponent Shields had faced showing up on any of the top ten lists at the moment. Miller does not show up as a top ten fighter in rankings at the present time.
Over all, Shields has submitted a lot of the strikers he has fought but failed to finished most of the grapplers in his path. Nick Thompson, who is also a submission specialist, was submitted by Shields, but if you take a closer look at Thompson’s record, most of his losses come by submission.
A fact that stands out in Shields’ record is that almost all his wins were against fighters not in the top lists for any of the divisions they have fought in. Exceptions to that rule are Dan Henderson, Carlos Condit, and Robbie Lawler. In other words, Shields hasn’t exactly faced the tipity top of the food chain in MMA, a lot of fighters in the top 15 to top 25 realm really.
Now, let’s dig in a little bit into the champion…
Georges St. Pierre (21-2)
Hasn’t lost a single round in his last eight fights for a total of 31 consecutives rounds won.
Last three opponents: Josh Koscheck, Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves
At least six of his last ten fights have been against pound-for-pound top ten welterweights.
Vs. Josh Koscheck – Complete shutdown led by a jab that put Koscheck’s career on hold for an undetermined amount of time. Dominated both the striking and the few scrambles that occurred within the five rounds against not only a top welterweight but, a highly regarded wrestler with a powerful right hand.
All judges scored the bout 50 to 45 St. Pierre. At the moment, Koscheck was within the top 10 best welterweights in the world.
Vs. Dan Hardy – Complete domination of the top position throughout the entire fight, putting Hardy in danger of submission twice with a very tight Kimura and an armbar.
At the moment of the fight, Hardy was also within the top ten best welterweights in the world and is still regarded as one of the best strikers in the division.
Not a single judge gave Dan Hardy a round.
Vs. Thiago Alves – In what was thought to be a very dangerous and tough challenge for GSP, again the record shows he absolutely dominated another top ten best welterweight in the world.
In this match, Alves, who without a doubt is one of the most beloved and more charismatic fighters in the UFC, seemed like he had virtually no answer for GSP’s grappling and control of the cage.
It is also fair to mention that St. Pierre has also beaten some of the biggest names in UFC and MMA in general, like BJ Penn, Matt Hughes, and the current number two ranked welterweight in the world, John Fitch.
Now, every MMA fan knows how the sport breaks down between all the striking and grappling areas. A well-rounded fighter is that one who dominates all or most areas and disciplines of the sport.
Now, that said, I think we can all agree that in all areas of the striking department the advantage goes to GSP by the classic mile.
Although Shields is regarded as one of the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in MMA, GSP is also versed in the discipline so, the question is, is the advantage Shields might have over GSP with his Jiu Jitsu equal or greater than the advantage GSP has over him with his striking?
Now, one thing is submission grappling or grappling with a gi, and another thing is grappling when there are punches involved in the equation, and that brings me to another area of the ground game—the ground-and-pound.
Not taking away any credit from Jake Shields, for a fighter his caliber he has close to cero ground-and-pound in his game.
A fighter who gets as many full mount positions as he got against Miller, Henderson, or Kampmann, and cannot land effective strikes from that mount, has a lot to improve in the ground-and-pound department.
So, adding up all this info you would have to conclude that GSP takes the most points for well-roundedness as a fighter, has defeated higher quality competition, has lost less rounds and fights, and that explains why the betting lines are behaving the way they do.
My prediction is that this fight will be not very different than the fight against John Fitch, Dan Hardy, BJ Penn, or Josh Koscheck.
It would be refreshing to see the start of a new era now that Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva seemed to have plowed through their respective divisions once or twice, but the numbers don’t lie, GSP wins in convincing fashion… again. I think the face of a John Fitch and Josh Koscheck's right eye will agree with me on this.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading.
Originally posted at The MMA Truth.
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