Cesar Gracie: Jake Shields caught GSP by surprise with the improvement in his striking


If fights were judged simply by the visible damage on a participant's face, Jake Shields would have left the Octagon with the UFC welterweight belt wrapped firmly around his waist on Saturday night at UFC 129.

Of course, that's not the case and Georges St. Pierre was able to cautiously jab his way to a unanimous decision victory in the main event of the largest attended MMA show in North American history.

One of Jake Shields' biggest fans was his coach, Cesar Gracie, and he tells that he was very impressed by Jake's performance overall.

"If that fight kept going, Jake wins is what it looked like to me. He hurt St. Pierre, broke his nose, popped his eye and I was really surprised how well he did standing with the guy. I got a new boxing coach, this guy named Mario (L'Esperance) and the guy really tuned up Jake's game. He was throwing a great jab. He landed the right hand a couple times really hard. I really think he caught GSP off track to see how good Jake's come along in the stand-up department.

"Props to GSP for having excellent takedown defense and making it a stand-up fight where he thought he would win but Jake came out to fight and I thought he looked really good. GSP has beaten everyone else up for the most part and made it very lopsided in his wins. Even though he was able to take the fight where he wanted it, which was standing, it looked like Jake did very well standing on his feet with him ...

... Overall, I thought it was a good show and I'm looking forward to moving on and learning from mistakes."

More from Shields' head trainer about Jake's gameplan as well as some corner issues after the jump.

One of the things analysts around the MMA world have been talking about was Jake Shields' game plan. Obviously he kept the fight standing but how much of that had to do with the champion's takedown defense?

"Actually, we did want that fight on the ground. I still believe that Jake is superior on the ground to GSP and I think even GSP believes that and that's why I think you saw him not wanting to engage. Georges had a couple good takedowns and from top position you saw him try to get back up because he realized he was fighting a superior grappler. Props to him.

"Jake had a leg a couple of times and GSP got out really well. It looked like a couple times his leg just kinda slipped right out of there. He must have been real slippery or something, I don't know. He defended the takedowns well and made it a stand-up fight."

In between the second and third rounds, Jake asked cornerman Gilbert Melendez "should I pull guard yet?" Many, including UFC commentator Joe Rogan, speculated that pulling guard may have been part of Shields' gameplan if he was having trouble getting the fight to the ground. Gracie cleared things up.

"It wasn't (part of the gameplan). I think they were just wanting to bring it to the ground and he was wondering, 'hey, do you want me to pull guard?' He was asking if that was a good idea and Gilbert said 'no.' I think with Jake, his guard is so good, he'll reverse position. He was trying to find a way to finish this fight.

"It's a tough fight for anyone fighting GSP because the guy is a master at point fighting. He'll go and strike a little bit and if he's not doing great standing he'll take you down. If he thinks he can pass guard, he will and he'll try for a submission. If not, he'll just sit there and throw strikes. With Jake, he really didn't want to do either of those so he decided to stand and out-point him standing which he did. I thought it was close. Again, at the press conference, Jake was there and he didn't look too bad at all and Georges was at the hospital."

"I thought Jake did great. Really, the amount of pressure, both looked extremely nervous."  

While he's Jake Shields' head trainer, Cesar wasn't able to make the trip to Canada due to some Visa issues. That wasn't the only problem that Jake had with his corner.

"There was a mix-up in Toronto and there were a couple of things that affected us. Jake Shields' boxing coach is a guy named Mario (L'Esperance). What Jake Shields needed was a boxing coach in his ear and unfortunately he didn't have that. I wasn't too happy with the corner situation."

"When I look at it, Gilbert Melendez is a great corner man. There was no boxing coach there. He was supposed to get four corners. The title fights get four corners in the US so we had named four cornermen. One of them is more of a friend of Jake's and holds pads for him. The other was his boxing coach, a true boxing coach, professional. One guy was Gilbert Melendez and there was to be one other guy also but what happened was Toronto is still new to this sport and they haven't figured everything out. What they did was they only had three cornermen for the title fight, even though you're supposed to get four, not three."

"At that point, Mario was not getting in the ring and there was kind of a conflict at some points there. (Jake) had to double up the jab more and I know this because I spoke to Mario today and he was telling me all about it. There was a little bit of confusion in the corner. He needed to be more aggressive on his feet when he was landing and when GSP was hurt. Tactically, we needed the boxing coach to be talking to him and unfortunately that didn't happen."

Very interesting.

What do you think Maniacs? Had both Cesar Gracie and Jake's boxing coach been been in Shields' corner, would it have made a difference?

Sound off!

For the full audio of Cesar's interview, click here.

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