St. Pierre taking Shields seriously

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:03 PM ET

TORONTO - According to the bloggers, web nuts and mixed martial arts freaks — and they’re coming out of the woodwork these days so watch out — all Georges St. Pierre has to do on April 30 is climb into the Rogers Centre octagon and do the Bossa nova.

It’s almost as if his opponent for the historic UFC 129 event — the laid-back Californian Jake Shields — doesn’t count.

Shields is widely being written off as a sacrificial lamb for St. Pierre as the Montreal fighter prepares for his inevitable “Super Fight” against the other mixed martial arts legend, Anderson Silva.

I actually felt bad for Shields sitting on the podium on Tuesday during a media conference at the Rogers Centre to publicize UFC 129 (as if the event really needs any publicity).

Most of the initial questions directed at St. Pierre and UFC president Dana White were about St. Pierre eventually getting it on with Silva. Meanwhile, Shields was forced to sit there like a neglected puppy dog. I was half waiting for the dude to get up and start serving tea and crumpets at one point.

St. Pierre and Silva, the UFC welterweight and middleweight champions respectfully, are considered the best pound-for-pound MMA fighters in the world and a clash between the two would be Audie Murphy big. OK, bigger.

Shields, meanwhile, is considered a good fighter who built up an impressive record largely outside of the UFC against inferior competition, at least compared to St. Pierre.

So while UFC 129 is being hailed as the most lucrative UFC event ever, the actual main event is not getting a ton of respect. It’s almost as if GSP, who hasn’t lost a round in his last seven fights, is too good for the rest of the welterweight field — hence the talk of a clash against the equally respected (at least as a fighter) Silva. To their credit, neither GSP nor White are writing off Shields as a legitimate opponent. (And, of course, they wouldn’t, would they?)

“I made a mistake in the past, looking past an opponent, and I’m never going to do that again. The last time I did that, I got beat by Matt Serra,” said St. Pierre. “It would be foolish to look past Jake Shields.

“Jake is very dangerous,” St. Pierre continued. “He’s been working very hard on his Muay Thai, so he’s going to try to knock me out standing up and he’s going to try to submit me on the floor. On the floor, he’s probably the best guy the UFC has right now. He doesn’t have just one weapon. He’s very well-rounded and he’s a very clever fighter. That’s what makes him so dangerous, he’s very clever.”

“This guy is so stealth, it’s unbelievable,” added White, of Shields. “I got interviewed before I came in here and the guy said: ‘Come on, how scary is this fight for Georges St. Pierre? The odds makers made this fight 6:1 in Las Vegas.’ And I said, ‘People have been counting this kid (Shields) out forever.’ And I’ll admit, me too. He just fought Dan Henderson at 185 pounds and anybody who’s ever covered mixed martial arts — probably even his training camp — didn’t think he was going to win that fight. But not only did he win that fight, he dominated Henderson.”

As for Shields’ last bout, a largely unimpressive decision over Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut on Oct. 23, White put that performance down to what he calls “UFC jitters” — fighters coming to the UFC the first time are often nervous and don’t perform to their best abilities.

Still, the UFC prez admitted that everywhere he goes, particularly since Silva’s explosive, one-kick knockout of Vitor Belfort on Saturday, everyone asks him about St. Pierre-Silva.

“They’ve been talking about this Super Fight between these two forever,” White said. “It’s a fantasy fight right now. Silva just beat Belfort, that was a very dangerous fight. And now this is a very dangerous fight.”

So, basically, one piece of the puzzle is done. Now it’s up to St. Pierre to do his part and dispatch Shields — and the Super Fight’s all set.

“The reason a Silva-St. Pierre fight makes so much sense is because these two have consistently been fighting in the UFC, and this is more of a legacy Super Fight,” said White. “People argue over who’s the pound for pound best in the world, is it GSP or is Anderson Silva? If Georges beats Jake Shields, and now Silva has beat Belfort, well, they’ve cleaned out an entire division over the last several years. So the fight makes sense. It’s like the pound-for pound-championship.”

When asked on Tuesday who he feels is the best pound for pound MMA fighter in the world, Shields said GSP. When he was asked the same question, GSP suggested Silva (as well as UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo).

And that’s pretty well why everyone is looking past the main event on April 30.


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