Jake Shields -- one month out from his EliteXC welterweight title fight against Drew Fickett -- earned his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu from Cesar Gracie on Tuesday, according to GracieFighter.com.
It's no small feat to earn a jiu jitsu black belt from anyone let alone Cesar Gracie. In fact, for some fighters it could take more than 10 years to earn the prestigious top level status.
Here's a snip from Shields on his training background:
"I started submission grappling with Chuck Liddell and Scott Adams in 1999 and spent about two years with them. Then 6.5 yrs of BJJ under Cesar Gracie. Prior to that I'd been wrestling for about 10 years, so I've been involved in grappling for close to 20 years. Being a wrestler, I watched the old UFCs and saw Royce Gracie. He'd be tapping out everybody including all the wrestlers. So I'd have to credit Royce Gracie. As soon as I saw that, I wanted to do it. I saw that Chuck's gym [SLO Kickboxing] taught submissions so I started learning it. It wasn't pure BJJ over there, but it was good. Then I moved to San Francisco and saw Cesar's guys, like Dave Terrell, tearing up the competition at tournaments, and Cesar's system is pure BJJ so I went there."
Shields joins an elite group and is one of only three black belts under Cesar Gracie. He also trains black belts Nick Diaz -- who just earned his belt last year -- and David Terrell. Gracie also trains brown belts, Nate Diaz and Gil Castillo, as well as purple belt, Gilbert Melendez.
That's a pretty sick stable of fighters for Gracie, who earned his own black belt from Carlos Gracie Jr. Carlos Jr. was the son of Carlos Gracie, who along with Helio Gracie, were the co-founders of the legendary Gracie jiu-jitsu.
For his part, Shields has always displayed solid jiu-jitsu skills -- he's won three of his last four fights by submission and seven total in his career.
He also tapped out top UFC contender, Jon Fitch, at the Gracie open grappling tournament in 2005. Sure, it's a grappling tournament, but forcing Fitch to tap out is something to be proud of -- nobody else has been able to do that since Fitch's first career MMA fight back in 2002.
It's just another accomplishment for the already highly decorated 29-year-old. And if nothing else, earning this black belt should provide Shields with some extra confidence heading into the showdown with Fickett on March 29.
Even though it's doubtful he needs more of it.