UFC Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre will be one step away from cleaning up the 170-pound division, this time facing the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields. The fight is expected to headline UFC’s Toronto event, which will take place at the famous Rogers Centre in the city.

Just like before Cain Velasquez‘s UFC 121 bout against Brock Lesnar, we’ll try to find 5 reasons why Jake Shields is the man to beat Georges St. Pierre, or maybe not.

American Jiu-Jitsu

Jake Shields is one of the best grapplers in Mixed Martial Arts. Period.  Shields’s No Gi Jiu-Jitsu skills are second to none, and clearly better than the one of Georges St. Pierre. Training alongside Cesar Gracie only helps for the further improvement of Jake Shields‘s submission game, which will have to be at its best in a fight against St. Pierre.  10 out of 26 Jake Shields‘s career victories come via Submission.

Why not?
St. Pierre trains his Jiu-Jitsu at Renzo Gracie Academy in Connecticut. In my opinion, this is the only place where he can learn to defend Jake Shields‘s submission game. There’s a good chance St. Pierre can neutralize Jake Shields‘s Jiu-Jitsu and impose his will on the former Strikeforce and Elite XC Champion.

Wrestling

Combined with Jiu-Jitsu, Jake Shields has exceptional wrestling skills. The fight against a takedown machine in Dan Henderson is a living proof Shields can match-up against some of the best wrestlers in the game, and leave with his hand raised. And just like St. Pierre will look to neutralize Shields’s submissions, the challenger will work hard stopping St. Pierre’s takedowns. Jake Shields is not Dan Hardy or Thiago Alves. Josh Koscheck did a great job by stopping some of St. Pierre’s takedowns, as I expect more of the same from Jake Shields.

Why Not?
Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch are all elite wrestlers, but GSP was still able to take them down. Shields could stop some of St. Pierre’s takedowns, but he will surely not stop all of them. The most important thing about Georges St. Pierre is how he manages to frustrate his opponents while on top. He does a lot of damage via ground and pound, without even trying to pass his opponent’s guard. GSP could use against Shields the same ground strategy he used against BJ Penn, and we all know the result.

Experience

Jake Shields fought the who-is-who of MMA, defeating the likes of Yushin Okami, Toby Imada, Kauzo Misaki, Mach Sakurai, Carlos Condit, Nick Thompson, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Mayhem Miller, Dan Henderson and Martin Kampmann. It’s a long list of top welterweights, who are still in position to challenge titles in their promotions. Georges St. Pierre is a unique fighter, but he will struggle to surprise Jake Shields with something he never faced in Mixed Martial Arts. Shields’s experience will be his best friend in this fight, especially if Georges St. Pierre comes up with unexpected gameplan, just like he did against Josh Koscheck.

Why not?
Georges St. Pierre will have the help of Greg Jackson, who will surely come up with some sort of surprising gameplan. St. Pierre has an individual approach for every fighter, so Jake Shields will have to be ready for everything: from aggressive submission attempts to a stand-up war. Jake Shields will have to take a careful look at GSP’s fights against Alves, Penn and Koscheck, and learn how not to fall victim to an unstoppable “control freak” in GSP.

Great strategy against Strikers

St. Pierre displayed a very sharp and technical striking game in a fight against Josh Koscheck. But when looking at Jake Shields‘s record, there’s a recent victories over fighters like Dan Henderson, Paul Daley and Robbie Lawler. All elite strikers, who are well-known for knocking out their opponents out cold. The fact that Shields vas able to survive Dan Henderson‘s “H-Bomb”, is a proof that he has a very good chin. Shields knows how to fight against strikers, and he will show it against GSP.

Why not?
GSP has one of the best trainers in history of Boxing at his disposal. Freddy Roach will analyze Jake Shields‘s game, and arm St. Pierre with all the necessary tools to dominate the fight. GSP showed the whole world that you don’t have to be a well-known knockout artist to dominate your opponents on feet. Good use of jabs is more than enough; ask Josh Koscheck. Also, GSP’s unusual Kyokushin
Karate stance is what differs him from the likes of Henderson and Lawler, which can cause Jake Shields a lot of problems during the fight.

High expectations from GSP

It will be Georges St. Pierre’s 6th title defense, and one step from clearing up the UFC Welterweight division. St. Pierre may see in Shields only one fight from the thing that “really matters”, the superfight against Anderson Silva. Jake Shields has a lot to prove after an unimpressive performance against Martin Kampmann, as Georges St. Pierre already solidified his status as one of the All-time Greats. I will not be surprised if St. Pierre, even sub-consciously, underestimates Jake Shields.

Why not?
Mental condition is one of the most important aspects in a sport like Mixed Martial Arts, and I could easily name GSP alongside Fedor Emelianenko as the most mentally tough fighters in the sport. Both have somewhat similar personalities, as I it’s mostly unlikely that GSP will underestimate Jake Shields. Yes, that’s exactly what happened to Fedor against Werdum, but reflecting on GSP’s analytical nature I predict that he will remain focused against Jake Shields.

Photos: Esther Lin | Strikeforce