MMA Madness Writer Ben Zeidler recently spoke with EliteXC star Jake Shields about his big wins over Carlos Condit and Hayato Sakurai, being a fighter while having a daughter, and oh yeah, his open challenge to Georges St. Pierre.
MMA Madness: You were born in San Luis Obispo, California. Is that how you got involved with Liddell's SLO Kickboxing Academy?
Jake Shields: Well, I was actually born closer to the SierrasÖ
MMA Madness: Wikipedia gets me again.
: (Laughs) So yeah, I was born up there but I moved down to San Luis Obispo for college. I started working out at Liddellís gym when he wasnít well known at all.
MMA Madness: How'd you make the transition from wrestling and grappling tournaments to mixed martial arts?
: I wrestled all throughout high school and college. I was with Liddell for just a few weeks before he had me doing kickboxing and some MMA stuff. All of a sudden, I was fighting real fights.
MMA Madness: You're a shooto world champion. For those who donít know what that is or what it entails, can you tell us a little bit about that?
: Sure, shooto is worldwide and its one of the oldest organizations out there. Itís even older than the UFC. Itís not quite MMA, but it is still a combat sport and itís very respected in the world. I was the first American to win a shooto belt.
MMA Madness: You've beaten some of the biggest guys in the sport, from Carlos Condit to Hayato Sakurai. What would you call the biggest win of your career?
: I havenít had it yet. Iím just getting started here and before Iím done I plan on being the best.
MMA Madness: Are you happy with EliteXC or would you ever consider a jump to the UFC?
: I mean, Iím always looking at my options and I just want to fight the best. Elite has been really good to be so I have loyalties there, but I do want to continually be upping the competition that I face.
MMA Madness: Do you have any upcoming fights booked?
: Nothing is signed yet, but Iím looking to fight in March or early April at a couple of different venues.
MMA Madness: Who do you want to fight?
JS: Itís sort of out of my hands, but if I could choose, Iíd say GSP. Heís my number 1 pick.
MMA Madness: You haven't lost in over three years. What in your training is responsible for this recent success?
: Itís a combination of things. I just trained really hard, for starters. I never feel like Iím good enough either. I feel like I gassed in my last fight, even though I won, so Iím working on cardio. You canít beat cardio. Iím learning new techniques, new submissions, and new things. Itís a sport where thereís always so much more to learn.
MMA Madness: You're still just 27 years old. Have you hit your peak?
: I still feel really young and I have a few years before I hit my peak. I donít want to retire as long as I want to keep fighting.
MMA Madness: Iím sorry, I gotta go back to that GSP comment. How would a fight like that even happen?
: Hopefully, the organizations can work together to make it happen. Either I could go to the UFC or he could come here. I really want to see how we can make this work.
MMA Madness: You're involved with Fairtex-Gracie in SF and Tulsa Top Team. Can you tell us a little bit about those organizations?
: Well my main trainers run MMA programs at Fairtex. Thatís kinda my own group over there. At Tulsa Top Team, itís just some guys who train with me.
MMA Madness: Letís change gears for a second. How's your daughter doing? How has life changed for you since having a child?
: My daughter is great but lots of work, so Iím always training but Iím trying to do fewer trips. Sheís in first grade now, so itís just cool to have a daughter.
MMA Madness: Thatís gotta be interesting when she tells her friends parents that her dad fights for a living.
: Yeah, she knows Iím a fighter and she grew up watching it so to her, itís nothing unusual. Iíve never brought her to a fight but sheís seen some jiu-jitsu tournaments. Eventually, sheíll realize that I donít have a normal job, but itís just what I do.
MMA Madness: Any sponsors you'd like to thank or websites youíd like to plug?
: JakeShields.com. Iíd like to thank Fairtex, Stagger, Dominant, andÖI know thereís more. Who else? Iím spacing on one (laughs)Ötheyíll be mad.
MMA Madness: Anything to say to your fans?
: Just thanks for all the support and keep watching me because Iím gonna do some big things.