The thirty year old Cesar Gracie trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has gone undefeated in the past four years, racking up a dozen consecutive victories over the likes of Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit and Paul Daley.
A fighter too talented to be restricted by weight classes, Shields recently jumped from his comfort zone competing at welterweight, and moved up to submit former EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler in his own division.
As it stands now, Jake is looking at fighting for the Strikeforce interim middleweight championship in October against an opponent yet to be named.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com recently had the opportunity to catch up with Shields and gather his thoughts on the obstacles of being a single father and professional fighter, being tired of Frank Shamrock’s s*** and much more.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Let start right out by asking how you got into MMA and what intrigued you most about the sport?
Jake Shields: I think I got into the sport much in the same way that many of the other fighters in MMA got into it. I was a wrestler in High School and college (Jake was a 2 time American Wrestler in college). After college I just met Chuck Liddell and began training at his kickboxing academy. Originally I just joined to work out but I found that the feelings I got from training were unmatched. I mean the competition inside the ring or cage is no purer than when it’s one on one between two men.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You are considered one of the premier ground fighters in the world, and one of the founders of “American Jiu-Jitsu”. Can you explain to us what “American Jiu-Jitsu” is?
Jake Shields: American Jiu Jitsu was created to specifically combine the positive aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the positives of wrestling. To me sometimes BJJ is a little to patient and waits too long for specific moves to develop while wrestling is to aggressive and doesn’t wait long enough for the openings to develop. I think with AJJ, there is a perfect combination of aggression and patience.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: At one point or another in your life you have defeated Hyato Sakurai, Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit, and Robbie Lawler to name a few. Who do you consider the biggest win of your career, and what names want to add to this list?
Jake Shields: That’s pretty hard because each of those fights were big. A lot of those guys I fought outside of a cage so it’s hard to compare. If I had to say one it would be Hyato Sakurai. That was my first big win in Japan. I think that was the one fight that made me say I can be good at this. In regards to who I want to add to the list, I am willing to fight anyone. I believe in the old to be the best you have fight the best so definitely Georges St. Pierre. Oh, and Frank Shamrock because he’s been a dick to me for too long, and I am tired of his shit. I keep challenging and demanding to fight him, but he always has some pussy excuse not to fight me. It was a pretty good feeling when Nick destroyed him. I definitely want to add him to the list
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You are one of three guys to have earned a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Cesar Gracie at the Cesar Gracie Academy. What was that journey like?
Jake Shields: It was a long tough journey but it was an extreme honor especially considering I am only one of three guys (Nick Diaz and David Terrell are the other two) to ever earn one from Cesar. It’s very difficult because Cesar has no specific criteria that he is looking for that you in advance. You just continue to fight and improve yourself until he tells you. The challenge, though, makes you appreciate how tough and how much of an honor it is to earn a black-belt from him.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: One thing that might surprise many of our readers is that you are a single father raising a beautiful little girl. What is that like balancing MMA and being a single father?
Jake Shields: It’s a hard thing to do. I am always very busy training, doing corporate speaking engagements, and shooting shows and promotions. I always make sure that I spend time with her. She’s started in Jiu-Jitsu now so we spend a lot more time with each other. She understands what I do for a living and is very accepting of it. I couldn’t ask for a better daughter.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: How does being a Vegan affect your fighting?
Jake Shields: I am not vegan. I am a vegetarian. A lot of people get those two mixed up. I don’t eat meat at all including fish. I do eat eggs but that’s only when I need more protein. I think because this is the way I grew up and not something I took on when I became older, my body doesn’t have as much difficulty as many of the other fighters who convert to being a vegetarian. To me, I think my body feels cleaner and healthier than if I were to eat meat. When it comes to eating though I enjoy it prepared in many different ways. I like Chinese, Thai, Indian. It just really depends on the day.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Your coming up on the one year anniversary of the opening of your own gym in Berkely. How has the experience of being a gym owner been for you?
Jake Shields: I love it. I love knowing that I always have somewhere to go day or night to train without worrying if someone is there to work with. It does present different challenges that I haven’t had to deal with before but it is entirely worth owning. I have most of my friends and guys I train with there. It’s just an awesome experience.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So when you aren’t fighting or training what do you do for fun?
Jake Shields: (laughs) Those days are few and far between. When they do come around I do enjoy spending time with my daughter and friends just hanging out or going hiking.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So how does knowing what Fedor was “offered” make you feel as a fighter?
Jake Shields: Honestly, I am not upset all by it. It really shows you how high the bars are set for MMA fighters now. I am glad to see that the paydays are starting to increase. I remember when I first started out fighting saying to myself if I earned $25 or $30 grand a fight I would be extremely happy. Now I see where the sport has gone and I am motivated to keep trying to be the best fighter in the world so when I do negotiate my contracts I can be paid well. I think this is what fighters have to strive for. So congratulations to Fedor for whatever he signed for and I’ll make mine when the time is right.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: You, the Diaz brothers, Dave Terrell and Gilbert Melendez are called the “scrap pack.” If they made a movie called “The Scrap Pack” who plays you guys and why?
Jake Shields: (laughs) Never heard that one before. That’s a hard one. I know I’d want to be played by Brad Pitt that way when the ladies see the movie, they’ll be like, “If Brad Pitt played him he has to be a guy we want to meet” (laughs). I think Johnny Depp would play a great Nick because Nick is definitely a weird guy. He’s cool as can be, but he is definitely the strange guy in the group. While we’re at it, let’s have him play Nate too. That’d be pretty interesting. I have no clue about Gilbert and Dave. I’ll have to think about that one and go from there.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: So what’s next for you man?
Jake Shields: You know I have no clue. I am just sitting back waiting to find out when and where I’ll fight next. I am ready to go now but it isn’t like that in this sport (Since the interview Jake has been notified that he will fight for the Strikeforce Middleweight Interim Championship in October while Cung Le continues to focus on movies rather than defending his belt). I am filming another episode of Bully Beatdown. I am helping Nick and Gilbert train for their upcoming fights. So other than that not much else is going on right now.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
Jake Shields: I think that most people are amazed by the fact that although we fight for a living, most of us are pretty cool guys. I know there are certain fighters out there who are assholes, but most of us are cool guys.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Would you fight Nick Diaz if the price was right?
Jake Shields: You know I am going to have to say no here as Nick is a great personal friend of mine. I mean we train together as it is so I mean if we were to fight who would we train with? Now, I mean if we are talking Fedor money then I think Nick and I would come to an agreement to fight but I think yeah, I am going to say no here.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: What’s your pick for Carano vs. Cyborg and do you think the 5 minute rounds are good for women?
Jake Shields: I am pretty torn here. I know Gina is a hell of a fighter and Cyborg is extremely aggressive and strong. Part of me wants to pick Gina and another part says Cyborg. If I had to bet I think I would probably go with Gina here. About the five minute rounds, I say if they want the same treatment that men get when they fight in the cage they should have to have the same rules. The only issue I have is that I think immediately jumping into 5 minute rounds could be a little bit much. If it was me I think I would have gone with three 5 minute rounds to start rather than five 5 minute rounds, but again if they want to be like the men then they will have to follow the same rules.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com: Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk with 5 Oz’s. Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Jake Shields: Definitely. I would like to thank Tapout, Metal Mulisha, and all of my sponsors, friends and family who have helped me get to this stage in my career and the fans.