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Jake Shields ready to play spoiler at UFC 129Posted on Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 5:06 pm
by IDMA Editor
The California welterweight is the lone hurdle remaining before an Ultimate Fighting Championship dream bout between Canadian star Georges (Rush) St-Pierre and Anderson (Spider) Silva of Brazil to settle who is the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter on the planet. Before that match can be made, St-Pierre has to defeat Shields in the main event at UFC 129 in Toronto on April 30.
Photo of Jake Shields and George St-Pierre - photo credit bloodyelbow.com
Shields told a packed press conference in the Rogers Centre Tuesday that he understands all the St-Pierre versus Silva talk.
“They’ve both been so dominant in the UFC the last few years that people are talking about it,” he said. “I think it’s a big mistake to overlook me because I plan on coming out and spoiling that fight.”
St-Pierre, the defending UFC welterweight champion, said Shields has his full attention.
“I don’t even think about it right now,” he said of a potential Silva fight. “It would be foolish for me to look past Jake Shields. He poses the biggest threat to my title. He’s a very well-rounded fighter.”
A Silva-St-Pierre match-up would do for MMA fans what the perpetually doomed Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight could do for boxing – put the sport’s two biggest stars in their prime in the same ring to settle who is the undisputed best.
Silva, the UFC middleweight champion, did his part last Saturday night, defending his belt with a devastating first-round knockout of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.
“People have been talking about the super fight between these two forever,” UFC president Dana White said. “It’s a fantasy fight right now. Georges St-Pierre is in a very dangerous fight up here in Canada. This guy [Shields] is so stealth it’s unbelievable, but that’s how he’s been his whole career.
“Georges has to get through this fight first before we can even talk about an Anderson Silva fight.”
While St-Pierre is one of the established faces of the UFC, Shields brings an impressive résumé of his own into the Toronto fight. Undefeated since 2004, he’s won 15 consecutive matches over that period in various MMA organizations, including a thrashing of MMA stalwart and heavy favourite Dan Henderson for the Strikeforce promotion last year.
“I love this role – it’s exactly the same thing as the Henderson fight,” Shields said. “It’s exactly what I’m planning on doing here. Everyone is talking GSP this and GSP that – and I do think he’s a phenomenal fighter and deserves all this – but I plan on going out there and dethroning his title run.”
White has often called Canada “the Mecca” of MMA and the excitement surrounding the event has done little to dispel that notion. Six months ago, the UFC wasn’t able to hold a sanctioned event in Ontario. On Tuesday, the company’s press conference was carried live by two sports networks across Canada and the gate from UFC 129 is expected to make it the biggest North American event in MMA history.
“It’s unbelievable how fast it has taken off here, how big it is here and how much talent comes out of here,” White said. “The reason that UFC works is because we’re human beings and fighting is in our DNA. We get it and we like it. Canada just gets it and likes it a lot more than everybody else.”
St-Pierre isn’t the only Canadian fighting at UFC 129. Mark Hominick of Thamesford, Ont., faces Jose Aldo in a featherweight championship bout, and Toronto native Mark Bocek will face Ben Henderson in a lightweight fight. Seven other Canadian fighters are scheduled to compete in preliminary bouts.
The card, which is being paired with a two-day Fan Expo at the Direct Energy Centre, is expected to set a North American attendance record for an MMA event, with the UFC using a Rogers Centre configuration that will seat 42,000 fans. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Saturday.