As his highly anticipated title shot approaches, Jake Shields has become more and more focused. Typically easily accessible to media and fans, Shields has shut out all distractions to focus solely on the man many consider to be the best fighter on the planet - Georges St. Pierre.
Shields, who debuted to mixed results in a win over Martin Kampmann in October of last year doesn't want a repeat of the difficult weight cut he experienced in that fight, and has worked diligently to properly shed the excess weight he picked up in his brief incarnation as a top flight middleweight.
"I hate to make excuses, but I think (the weight cut) made a difference," Shields said. "I felt horrible out there. My body just shut down on me there in the first two or three minutes of the fight. It was the most important fight of my life, and I just felt like crap out there."
Shields explained that the cut was different from any other he'd gone through because he'd bulked up and built muscle consistent with that of a "real" middleweight for the first time in his career before being asked to shed it within months for his first UFC contest.
"After the fight with Henderson, and just those three fights at 185, I bulked up and really became a 185-pounder," Shields explained. "I just kind of misjudged the drop back to welterweight. I thought I'd be comfortable with it and I just pushed it too close and learned the hard way that that's not the way to do it. But, I was able to pull through with a win.
"It was unfortunate that that was my first UFC fight, and that UFC fans only have that fight to judge me on, but that's just not the fighter that I am. I've got a lot to make up for after that performance and I'm going to come out looking a lot better in this next fight. Now it's about running more and keeping my weight more in check. And I'm leaner now ever since that fight. Usually you eat after fights, but I was so pissed at myself that I didn't. But right now I feel good. I'm already down to 180."
With his weight under control, Shields has turned his attention to sharping his skillset and focusing on what he does best. Many believe that Georges St. Pierre is the best grappler in the division, but Shields, who has the credentials to truly test this assertion, believes that St. Pierre has never faced a grappler of his caliber.
"He's fought good wrestlers and good jiu-jitsu guys but no one that mixes it together like me," said Shields. "And also I bring a different type of pressure, I plan on being in better shape and I'm bigger than a lot of the guys he's fought so I have a bunch of things he hasn't seen.
"(Beating GSP) is not an easy task, but I feel it's something I can do. I think my jiu-jitsu is a whole different level than anyone he's fought. He's fought some good jiu-jitsu guys, but he's never fought anyone with the jiu-jitsu ability and wrestling ability that I have. I'm going to put a lot of pressure on him, go out there, put him on his back, and submit him."
While his grappling prowess is unquestioned, Shields is well aware of the perception that St. Pierre will have a huge advantage when the two stand, however he points out that he's fought dangerous stand-up...