GSP Vs Jake Shields: A Possible Academy Award Nomination in The Making?

If you’ve been following the UFC, you’d know that they have gone to great lengths to be sanctioned to hold an event in Ontario.  Hugely successful events in Montreal have undoubtedly left the executives at Zuffa foaming from the mouths at a potential opportunity to cater to Canada’s largest market.  Besides being a breeding ground for up and coming fighters, Canada has proven to be a loyal (UFC) fan base that is not only easy to market to, but also easy to impress.  Toronto’s own Maple Leafs franchise knows this better than anyone.  The Leafs, who have not reached the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season, still remains as the most lucrative team in the NHL.  Ticket prices for Leaf games have steadily increased as their team has steadily gotten worse.  Fans don’t seem to care that the richest team in the NHL have either not made the effort or are unable to produce a team that can even make a threat at entering the playoffs.  Imagine owning a restaurant which serves garbage to its customers and having line-ups wrapped around the block.  That’s precisely what it’s like to own the Leafs.

Much like the Leafs, St. Pierre has been anything but exciting in his fights after re-gaining his title (which he ironically lost in probably the most exciting fight of his career), yet this hasn’t seemed to bother Canadian fans one bit.  I’ve sat in bars and witnessed fans cheering while St. Pierre takes his opponent to the ground.  I’m not talking about a ‘slam’ or a football type tackle that begins with a sprint toward the opponent, but a routine take-down that wouldn’t draw a single spectator to lift their ass off their seat had any other fighter performed it.

Zuffa has taken notice of this and have ensured that St. Pierre remains as the welterweight champion.  How, you ask? By matching him up against fighters who really don’t pose as a threat to dethrone him.  Let’s take Matt Serra, for example.  How in the world did Serra even get a title shot? He won TUF Season 4? Serra was 3-3 in 6 fights in the UFC, leading up to his title shot, with every one those fights going to a decision.  In fact, Serra had only finished 1 opponent in all of his fights – and that was as a lightweight.

After regaining his title, St. Pierre has wins over Fitch, Alves, Penn, Hardy and Koscheck.  All of whom match up well with his fighting style.  The UFC will not match up St. Pierre against any fighter who has a combination of good stand-up and submission skills.  Penn was probably the closest to this, but as we all know, Penn is a natural lightweight.  But even with the size (and reach) disadvantage, Penn almost pulled off the decision in their first fight.  In their 2nd confrontation, St. Pierre avoided standing with Penn and minimized the risk of being submitted by having Vaseline applied to his chest and back.  Although the incident was caught on tape, Penn was never issued a re-match and efforts have been made to avoid others from ‘greasing’.

As for Hardy, he had 4 wins in the UFC prior to getting his title shot.  Three of those wins came via decision, with 2 of those decisions being of the ‘split’ variety.  If you’ve watched enough fights you’ll know that split decisions in the UFC may as well be draws.  He had already beaten both Koscheck and Penn, why fight them again? Instead of Koscheck, Hardy or Penn, why wasn’t he fighting Carlos Condit or Paulo Thiago? You know why.  Because both Condit and Thiago possess the styles that would finish UFC’s poster boy.

Enter Jake Shields.  The former Strikeforce middleweight champion who, for some odd reason, left his title and decided to join the UFC.  Normally, Shields wouldn’t have a problem beating St. Pierre, but that’s not why he was brought into the UFC.  He was brought in for 1 reason: to discredit Strikeforce.

The UFC cannot afford to lose St. Pierre as a title holder – especially not at this point with competitors like Strikeforce showcasing a blockbuster heavyweight tournament that includes both Fedor Emilienenko and Alistair Overeem.  For him to lose his title in front of Canada’s largest stage, would be a travesty not only for St. Pierre, but also for the UFC.  Imagine, a former Strikeforce fighter coming into the UFC and beating their #1 welterweight in front of his home country.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster.  This is why it will not happen.  Pre-determining this fight will not only discredit Strikeforce (as their former middleweight champion loses to a UFC welterweight), but it will also feed the Canadian sheep (St. Pierre fans) what they want to see – a finish.

Expect to see this fight fixed to have St. Pierre finish by TKO or submission.  My guess is submission, for 2 reasons: #1. it’s easier to fake a submission than a TKO and #2. it will silence the critics that point out how St. Pierre (a self proclaimed ‘true martial artist’) was unable to finish a basic arm-bar against Dan ‘the no ground game havin’ Hardy.  However, much like Leaf fans, I’m certain that St. Pierre fans will be blind to whatever transpires in that fight.  They will see the garbage unfold in front of them and embrace it as truth.  Balance will be restored in the UFC.  Everyone wins – the UFC, the Canadian fans and even Jake Shields - as he’ll walk away with more money than he has ever seen, and of course - a possible nomination for best supporting actor.

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