Enough already! Shields wants GSP

The headliner of the event with see George St-Pierre of Montreal defend his welterweight title...

The headliner of the event with see George St-Pierre of Montreal defend his welterweight title against American Jake Shields. (Pictured) St-Pierre (L) welterweight champion poses with his belt and his adversary Shields for the media. (Jack Boland/QMI Agency)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:00 PM ET

You know Jake Shields wants to speak out, perhaps even to lash out.

But for the sake of Saturday’s mega-card — and likely because he doesn’t want to incur the wrath of UFC czar Dana White — Shields is putting on a happy face leading up to his bout against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

The issue is time.

Shields, who is as personable outside the Octagon as he is ferocious inside it, knew there would be a ton of media obligations when he arrived in Toronto this week during the build-up to UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre.

But he never expected that it would be as intense as it has been. In fact, the Mountain Ranch, Calif., native admitted on Thursday, following one of those fake workouts for the media at the Direct Energy Centre, that the UFC has perhaps gone overboard with the media stuff. It’s reached a point where he is actually afraid he won’t be in optimal condition for his fight against GSP.

“I expected a lot of media, but not this much,” Shields said. “It’s been crazy, I mean like hours every day.”

Shields told a Toronto Sun scribe that he won’t be at his best on Saturday night if things continue the way they are right now.

“It’s a little overwhelming,” he said. “I’ve being doing a lot, a lot, of media, when I’m trying to cut weight and rest and train. The morning (events) have been an issue because I can’t go to bed until 5-6 because I’m a really late-night person. I’m having a little trouble sleeping.”

When his afternoon media workout finished yesterday, UFC officials marched the laid-back fighter into another room at the DEC and he was actually surprised to see a plethora of media types waiting. It turns out he had no idea there would be yet another question and answer session.

“I’m trying (to deal with it),” he said. “Of course it affects me a little bit, but I hope they have George doing the same amount of media. I’m sure he’s more used to it though.”

Shields said he understands media is a big part of the deal, because, as he said, “they need to sell the card.”

St. Pierre, on the other hand, appeared extremely relaxed on Thursday, even having some fun during his training session — disarming a knife-wielding “thug” who crept up behind him during his workout. St. Pierre made quick work of the masked rascal with a variety of karate moves.

“It was just to amuse the crowd a little bit,” he said with a laugh. “My manager said I was crazy to do it, (but) everyone is so serious and stressed (right now). For me, I try to enjoy it as much as I can. To make things easier, more fun, I need to joke around.”

St. Pierre was asked if he ever had to disarm a guy with a real knife during his time working as a bouncer in a Montreal hip hop club years ago.

“I was fortunate enough most of the time to talk my way out of trouble. That’s the best way on the street to deal with trouble. You can be as strong as you want, but nobody’s as fast as a bullet,” he said, adding that two weeks after he quit the club, somebody got shot.

“People know that the hip hop crowd normally are known for violence, because the lyrics and everything — it’s cool to be a gangster,” he added, in a somewhat politically incorrect aside.

Like Shields, St. Pierre said his main focus this week is to make weight while keeping his strength. He went out of his way yet again to praise Shields, whom he called a great champion, albeit a fighter who is feeling the stress. Despite that, Shields believes he may have one advantage over St. Pierre. GSP, despite his relaxed front, has the weight of the world on his shoulders heading into Saturday’s fight because he’s such a huge favourite with the Toronto fans and with the Vegas bookies.

“I think he is under more pressure,” said Shields. “We’re both dealing with issues. I’m dealing with being in hostile territory and he’s dealing with just tremendous amounts of pressure. So I think it kind of evens out.”

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

twitter @beezersun


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