Jake Shields Looks to Move Up the Middleweight Rankings with Victory Over Ed Herman at UFC 150
Jake Shields doesn't care what people think about him. Throughout his whole life, Shields has been criticized. He has learned to not only take this criticism in stride, but allowed it to create an unbreakable level of self-belief.
While the positivity of his loyal teammates at Caesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu motivates Shields to train hard, it is truly the criticism of his detractors that gets him out of bed in the morning. It always has been.
Growing up as a lifelong vegetarian, Shields was always told he couldn't be successful, as he recalls, "All throughout high school and college everyone told me I couldn't be an athlete, so I wanted to prove them wrong." Prove them wrong he did, as Shields became a two-time All-American wrestler at Cuesta College.
However, the criticism didn't stop there. Upon becoming a martial artist, he was criticized for his style and approach. Mixed martial arts critics have written him off as "conservative," while the jiu-jitsu community has doubted his ability to succeed outside of their traditional standards. Shields also proved these detractors wrong.
He has reached an unprecedented level of success in mixed martial arts and submission grappling, utilizing his unique brand of "American jiu-jitsu" to capture multiple world championships in two different weight-classes, and defeated some of the world's greatest athletes in the process.
As Shields prepares for his upcoming fight with Ed Herman at UFC 150 this August, he finds himself as confident as ever. Fresh off a unanimous decision victory over Yoshiro Akiyama in Japan this past February, it is easy to see why his confidence should be soaring.
Surprising many critics who predicted Akiyama to dictate the stand-up action, it was Shields who was able to keep the notoriously tough judoka at bay with a steady dose of stiff jabs and leg kicks. Shields sealed the deal with a slick takedown in in the third round, taking Akiyama's back for much of the final frame, and forcing the resilient hometown favorite to fend off rear-naked choke attempts until the end of the fight.
The markedly improved stand-up displayed in the Akiyama fight impressed many in the MMA world, and he while he emphasizes that this remains a strong focus in preparation for Herman, he is also quick to add that he has not forgotten the base of his success.
"I am really focusing on my stand-up, but I am also going back to my roots and doing more wrestling. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is my strongest point, but it's hard if you can't get it to the ground where you want to be, so I am definitely going back to a lot of wrestling."
Jake is quick to acknowledge his upcoming opponent's grit and versatility. "Herman is a well-rounded guy. His biggest strength is probably his jiu-jitsu, which is also my biggest strength; he also has good hands and good wrestling. He is tough everywhere, so I am not taking him lightly."
While Shields is definitely wise in not overlooking the gritty veteran, he also views the matchup to be stylistically favorable to his skill set, and is confident in his ability to finish Herman. "I think it's a good fight, we both have great ground skills, so hopefully I will take it there, and I am planning on submitting him."
The Herman fight also marks Jake's return to the middleweight division, a weight class he says he feels much more comfortable competing in. "I fought there before and felt stronger. Fighting at seventies, I felt that when I dropped the last five or six pounds I was a little weak. I decided to move up to one eighty five-a weight I am undefeated at. I beat guys like Dan Henderson. I figured I had done so well there, so why am I cutting all this weight?"
Make sure to check back to US Combat Sports tomorrow for Part 2 of Dylan Falduto's in-depth interview with Jake Shields. The middleweight contender discusses his vegetarian lifestyle, training alongside other members of the "Skrap Pack", and his dominant BJJ game.