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Interview: Jake Shields talks Fickett, St. Pierre

When you possess a 20-4-1 overall mixed martial arts record and have defeated your last nine opponents, one would think that you'd be close to a household MMA name. When you've won your last nine fights, with the most recent four coming by way of first round stoppage, one would think you'd be describing a current mixed martial arts champion. Finally, when the fighters you've defeated along the way have names like Renato Verissimo, Mike Pyle, current WEC Champion Carlos Condit, and current UFC championship contender Yushin Okami, well, you get the point.

Jake Shields is an outstanding welterweight fighter whose name isn't nearly as well known as it should be amongst casual fans. But with him about to fight for the EliteXC Welterweight Championship on March 29, 2008 in San Jose, California that may all be about to change. That EliteXC / CBS deal isn't exactly going to hurt his notoriety either.

But first he has to get through a very tough fighter by the name of Drew Fickett. Perhaps if he does then Shields will be mentioned in the same breath with welterweights like Georges St. Pierre. Speaking of St. Pierre and Fickett, Shields took time from his busy schedule to give his thoughts on these guys and more with MMAFighting.com's Robert Rousseau.

MMAFighting.com: How are you doing?

Jake Shields: It's going alright. (Just) finished working out.

MMAFighting.com: How's training been going for you?

Jake Shields: It's going pretty good. Ran into a few little problems but (that's) usually what I go through training for a fight again.

MMAFighting.com: Who have you been training with?

Jake Shields: The usual people. Gilbert Melendez obviously; we live together. Nick and Nate Diaz: I've been training with them a lot because Nate's fighting a few days after us and me and Gil are on the same card as Nick. Other than that just a lot of my students? (For example), a guy Luke Stewart who's a Ralph Gracie Black Belt that's really good.

MMAFighting.com: That's great. You talked about Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers. How much do you feel that working in a camp like Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu helps you get ready for a guy like Drew Fickett in a championship bout?

Jake Shields: It helps a ton. I think Fickett's a really good grappler and I have some of the best (grapplers) in the country. I've got the best people to prepare for him.

MMAFighting.com: You just indicated that he's a really good grappler. Along with that, he's got 21 submission victories. But he's also proven to be pretty dangerous on his feet, like when he fought Josh Koscheck that time and got up. Is there a particular aspect of his game that you feel you have to be concerned with?

Jake Shields: He's a pretty well rounded fighter so I've got to be concerned with everything with a guy like Fickett. He has pretty good hands and submissions. Submissions are his strongest point, but that's also my strongest point. He's (also) got good knees and elbows, so I better watch those.

MMAFighting.com: How important is it to you that this is a championship bout?

Jake Shields: I think it's really important. I think I deserve a title shot. . . It puts me in a nice situation with the league really blowing up right now. I want to go out there and take that belt. . . And really get some good exposure.

MMAFighting.com: Has the fact that Nick Diaz has fought him in the past helped you at all to get ready?

Jake Shields: A little bit. But that fight was so fast; it's hard to get too much off of that. Nick really took it to him. That helps my confidence. (Still) things happen in fights, you don't want to take that and make too big a deal out of it.

MMAFighting.com: Definitely. Like you said, this is a championship bout and you've been a great fighter for a good time now. . . You've won nine fights in a row and five in a row by stoppage. Is there anyone out there in a different organization?like the UFC, but it could be anyone?that you would really love to get the chance to fight sometime in the future?

Jake Shields: There's a few guys I'd like to fight. But if I had to pick just one it would probably be Georges St. Pierre. I think he's been looking great his last two fights. I'm out here to fight the best; that would be a great test for me. So I'd love to go out there and fight him and see how it goes.

MMAFighting.com: Out of curiosity, style wise how do you think you match up with him?

Jake Shields: I think I match up pretty good. Obviously he's been looking great so it would be a tough fight. . . Certainly wouldn't be easy. . .

MMAFighting.com: I would love to see that fight.

Jake Shields: I think a lot of people would. Hopefully it will happen. Hopefully this CBS deal will give me a little more footage and a little more acknowledgement and it can get Dana White and Gary Shaw to work together. It's not too likely. But you never do know.

MMAFighting.com: You never do know; that's right. Do you have a prediction for your fight against Drew Fickett?

Jake Shields: I don't really like to give predictions. I'll predict me winning. How and when I don't want to say. I think I'm going to take the fight. I'm just going to go out there and try to bring it to him, hopefully early. My last four have been in the first round (and) I'm going to try and keep that streak going. But Fickett's a tough guy, and I definitely don't want to say that's going to happen for sure.

(But) I do see myself winning.

MMAFighting.com: Anything you'd like to say to the fans?

Jake Shields: Thanks for all the support. Keep watching, and I'll do my best to keep putting on good performances. I'll be around for a while.

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