Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields recently took the time to talk with Mark Wayne of Fightline.com to give his thoughts on his impending fight with Dan Henderson this weekend at Strikeforce: Nashville.
FightLine.com: Hey Jake, thanks for taking the time to talk today. How are you?
Jake Shields: I’m doing good. Just hanging out, I have to work out in a few.
FightLine: You’re fighting MMA veteran Dan Henderson on Saturday night at “Strikeforce: Nashville”. How has your preparation for this fight gone and did you bring anyone outside of the Cesar Gracie crew into your training camp to help you prepare?
Shields: Training went really well, lots of great training. I worked a lot of strength and conditioning. I’ve been mostly training with the same crew. I brought a few people out. You know, I had Court McGee come out for a week; one of “The Ultimate Fighter” kids. I had Kevin Casey, a really good Jiu-jitsu fighter…come and help me for a week. I trained at AKA; I trained there with Josh Koscheck. But mostly just the Gracie crew.
FightLine: I spoke with your teammate, Gilbert Melendez, yesterday and he said that, although he wishes you could be one of his cornermen, it still helps to boost his confidence having a teammate fighting on the same night as himself. How do you feel about sharing a card with a friend and training partner? Does it help to raise your energy level or does it distract you at all?
Shields: A little bit of both, you know? I mean, it’s great that we’re fighting on the same card and we got to train together and all that but it’s kind of a pain too because we can’t corner each other. And also, with him fighting first; it makes me really nervous when my friends fight. I get a lot more nervous when my friends fight than when I fight…I’m probably not actually going to watch his fight…I’d love to watch his fight but if it’s a close, you know, back and forth fight then my energy will be going up and down the whole time. So I’m gonna have to turn the TV off and skip the fight unfortunately.
FightLine: Keeping in that same vein, you and Gilbert are both considered underdogs in this fight; how did that affect the overall mood of your training camp? Did it motivate you guys or did it bring you down?
Shields: I don’t really pay attention to that, I don’t know. I guess it’s probably more of a motivator than anything. It definitely doesn’t bring me down. Fighting someone of Dan Henderson’s caliber and being the underdog it [gives] me more of a push; it makes me want to train harder. I have more to prove if I’m expected to lose.
FightLine: Did you do anything different in this training camp to prepare for Dan Henderson or did you keep to the same methods that you usually do?
Shields: You know, like 80-90% the same. I made some small tweaks in the training. I did a lot of wrestling, I did a lot of strength and conditioning to keep strong and to try and put a little weight on. I’ve got a good supplement program with TapouT sports nutrition.
FightLine: Like I said, a lot of people have you as an underdog; citing Henderson’s size and experience as the reasons why he is favored to win. I think a lot of people are overlooking the fact that you are very experienced yourself. You’ve had 29 fights with only 4 losses. You hold wins over a big middleweight in Yushin Okami, powerful strikers Robbie Lawler and Paul Daley, and crafty veteran Jason Miller. Why do you think people are wrong to count you out in this fight?
Shields: He’s probably had more high-profile fights and since people haven’t really seen me on TV they don’t realize that we have about the same experience level. I think the biggest difference is that he has fought heavier fighters so that gives him a slight advantage. He’s fought most at light heavyweight and I’ve done most of my fights at 170. So even though I think the guys we’ve fought have a pretty even skill level, he’s fought the bigger guys. So they probably look at it that way. And, you know, he’s fought in UFC, PRIDE; more high profile fights.
FightLine: Dan Henderson was recently quoted as saying that you were a boring fighter because of your tendency to wrestle and grind people down. Your last opponent, Jason Miller, also echoed that statement. Do you take that criticism to heart or do you just see it as, if they cannot stop your takedowns or get back up off of the ground then that is a flaw in their games and not yours?
Shields: I think it’s definitely a flaw in their game if they can’t stop me from taking them down. In most cases I submit the guy. Jason Miller is the first guy in several years that’s actually been able to survive with me. So, if I’m taking them down and putting them away and finishing the fight it’s definitely on him, not me. I mean, I definitely like to finish the fights. I prefer ending the fight.
FightLine: Strikeforce seems to really be pushing the promotion of Henderson. Most of the TV promos showcase Henderson and make very little mention of you, the current middleweight champion. Do you feel slighted by this and if so does it give you more motivation to beat Dan Henderson to prove a point?
Shields: Yeah, you know, a little bit…I understand he’s a name and they have to push him, it makes sense. But being the champ I think it would be nice to get as close to equal promotion. You know, even in the UFC, every time they have a title fight they usually push both guys equally. So it definitely gives me motivation to want to go out there and beat him and show the point that they should’ve been showcasing me.
FightLine: There has been a lot of attention paid to the fact that after this fight you are going to be a free agent. Regardless of what organization you end up in, are there any fighters out there that you would really like to test yourself against?
Shields: You know, I just want to fight the best in the world. Right now it’s Henderson, who is one of the best in the world. So I have a huge test right now and I’m just worried about getting through that. If I do get through this test there’s lots of, uh, like I said, I wanna fight the best. I mean, it doesn’t mean I’m going to the UFC but I would like to fight guys like Anderson and GSP. That doesn’t mean I’ll get them for sure but those are some guys that I’d love to fight one day.
FightLine: Speaking of Anderson Silva, what are you’re thoughts on his performance at UFC 112?
Shields: I really didn’t pay too much attention to that. You know, it wasn’t Anderson’s best performance but he still looked like a good fighter. You know, he really looked awesome in those first few rounds. The last two rounds I’m not really sure what happened. I’m not sure if he gassed…I’m not sure. I think he definitely should’ve fought harder in those last few rounds but regardless I think Anderson is an amazing fighter.
FightLine: Last question for you Jake and I’ll let you get back to preparing for your fight. How do you see the fight with Dan Henderson playing out and what skills do you have that you think will make the difference in the fight?
Shields: It’s a tough fight. He’s a good wrestler and a big striker but I think my advantage is on the ground. So if I can get him down and keep him down I think he’s gonna be in big trouble and I’ll be able to put him away with a submission.
FightLine: Alright Jake, thanks again for the time and good luck on Saturday.
Shields: I appreciate it.
Jake Shields will be defending his Strikeforce middleweight belt against Dan Henderson this Saturday at “Strikeforce: Nashville” live on CBS.