Jake Shields has been considered one of the world's best 170-pound fighters for the last few years. He is perhaps the best welterweight not currently fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Shields, the MMAWeekly No. 7 ranked welterweight in the world, will be fighting for the vacant EliteXC crown against Nick Thompson this Saturday night.
Shields recently joined MMAWeekly Radio to discuss his preparation for his upcoming bout. "Training is going great," said Shields. "I'm peaking out perfectly. I'm ready to fight. I haven't fought in way too long. Almost nine months. I'm super excited. I think Nick Thompson is a good opponent and I'm excited to be fighting on CBS as well."
A back injury forced Jake Shields out of a fight against Drew Fickett a few months back. He has since rehabilitated his back and he feels ready for this fight.
"The back is 100%. No complaints here. It was definitely a pretty bad injury. I worked with a really good doctor. I went there every week and now it's back to 100%."
Throughout Shields' career he has been relatively injury-free. Unfortunately, the back injury sidelined Shields for almost nine months. He hopes he'll never have that kind of layoff again.
"I've been really lucky. Some bumps, bruises, sprains. But this was my first serious injury that put me out of a fight," he explained. "That definitely sucked. I don't want to do that again. It was so frustrating because I wanted to fight so bad. I'm seeing my friends and everyone fight. I think it may be a good thing though because it's made me more motivated than ever."
Nick Thompson has been on an impressive 12 fight winning streak and poses a serious threat to Shields. However, Shields is happy that he will be facing a highly regarded fighter. He wouldn't want it any other way.
"I want the title to mean something. I don't want to fight some nobody. I want to go out there and fight real competition. I was glad when I heard Nick Thompson's name. Nick is on a good winning streak. I almost fought him in Bodog. He's called me out in the past. It's a fight I really want."
This fight is between arguably two of the best welterweights not in the UFC. Shields agrees that they are definitely up there. "I think (Mike) Pyle is up there; a few other guys. But we're two of the best," remarked Jake.
The championship fight this weekend is scheduled for five rounds and will be a test of Shields' cardio. Going the distance is nothing new to Jake who won the Rumble on the Rock tournament back in 2006, defeating Yushin Okami and Carlos Condit in one night. Shields is usually in excellent condition and he believes his cardio will not be an issue on Saturday night. "I've been training so hard, I don't think it's going to be a factor. The intensity I train at, the cardio is great. I'm feeling ready for a title fight."
In a five round fight, some fighters feel obligated to try to reserve their cardio in case the fight goes the distance. Looking for any opportunity that is open, Shields will not hold back in his fight with Thompson. "I'm going out there hard to try to finish it. Obviously I'm not going to go out and blow a lot of energy, but if there is an opportunity to put him away, I'm going to take it. I feel like I'm in good enough shape."
Thompson and Shields are primarily ground fighters; the similar styles can be a recipe for a stand up fight. Shields is very confident in his stand up and believes he can stand toe-to-toe with Thompson.
"I feel confident in it," said Shields. "I think Nick Thompson is preparing for that. In his interviews, he says he is working on his wrestling to keep it on his feet. I'm ready for that. Obviously, I prefer to take him down to the ground and finish him there, but I'm prepared to stand with him. I've been working my stand up a lot and I'm not afraid to do that at all."
It's been a long time coming for Shields who will have a legitimate title shot against a top contender. This will be his highest profile fight of his career when he makes his network television debut on CBS. The first CBS event drew high numbers and it seems that the buzz hasn't died down. Shields knows that this is his big shot and he plans on making the best of it.
"I definitely think it's my chance. I've been fighting for years now and I haven't got the exposure that other guys have. This is my experience to go out there and show the world I can fight. I got to make sure that I go out there and have an impressive performance. I don't want to go out there and fight like shit, make it a boring fight, or even worse lose. Nick Thompson is a tough opponent, so it won't be an easy fight. I'm going to go out there and try to make an example of him."