Against All Odds
Everyone Assumes GSP Will Defeat Jake Shields and Then Face Anderson Silva In a Superfight … Almost Everyone
After just a few minutes of action, a gassed Jake Shields found himself staring up at the clock.
With more than 30 professional fights to his name, the former two division champion had nothing left in the tank against the always game Martin Kampmann at UFC 121.
It wasn’t that Kampmann worked over the top-five welterweight in the opening moments. Instead, Shields worked over himself, cutting 20 pounds in the days leading up to the bout.
The error nearly cost Shields a title shot and snapped his win streak that encompassed five years.
As history shows, the MMA gods smiled on the former Strikeforce/Elite XC standout, blessing him with a razor-thin split decision victory. Having his hand raised after the less-than-stellar show, however, was no consolation.
“I was just mad at myself,” says Shields. “I got the win, but I was more embarrassed than anything.”
It wouldn’t be the first time he beat the odds.
LEARNING ON THE JOB
Last April, Shields stared up at the bright arena lights after being leveled by Dan Henderson. But let’s be honest: there’s no honor lost in losing to the living legend. But Jake Shields doesn’t do losing.
In what was to be his final performance in the Strikeforce cage, Shields rebounded from the first-round drubbing and came back to earn a unanimous-decision victory.
Dominating Henderson, an Olympic level wrestler, on the mat was impressive. However, few know that Shields got a crash course in how to survive after getting rocked.
“I’ve never been dropped, period,” reveals Shields. “Practice or anywhere. Henderson is one of the nastiest hitters in the sport, and he connected cleanly.”
The big right hand from “Dangerous” Dan is enough to make even elite fighters fold like a used accordion. Unlike the Kampmann fight, Shields takes pride in the victory, attributing his resilience to the “will to win” and an unbreakable mental toughness.
“I learned a lot from the Henderson fight,” says Shields. “I’d never taken a shot that hard. I was pretty good at not getting hit. It was good to come back from that against a big strong opponent. I know I can take a shot, get dropped and still go hard for five rounds.”
Anthony’s complete story is in the June issue.
Photo by Wanelle Fitch