MMAFightCorner.com: And joining us on the phone right now is UFC welterweight contender Jake Shields. Jake, we want to thank you for joining us in the fight corner. You’re taking on Yoshihiro Akiyama in Japan February 26th. Has your training camp started yet, buddy?
Jake Shields: It just started earlier. I’ve been traveling a lot, but I’ll start heavy training this week.
MMAFightCorner.com: Very good. Now, what is your weight at coming into the camp, and is it hard keeping your weight off with the holidays around now, I mean eating? That’s got to be a hard time to start a training camp.
Jake Shields: Yeah, I’m about 190 right now, and the weight — it’s never fun, but it’s not too bad. I got to eat and pig out over Thanksgiving, so now I’ve just got to start relaxing a little bit, and you know, start bringing the weight down. It does get a little difficult training through Christmas and New Year’s, but I’ll be able to fight people.
MMAFightCorner.com: Jake, it’s been a while since you fought in Japan. Are you excited to go back there?
Jake Shields: Yeah, you know, it’s been really cool. I like [unintelligible] in Japan, so it’s going to be cool to go back there and check it out again. You know, they’ve had quite a few changes over the last year, so hopefully this fight thing’s still big in Japan.
MMAFightCorner.com: JK, congratulations last night, we saw you in the corner of Gilbert Melendez. Your teammate brought home the gold, man, you’ve got to feel great. It’s got to feel like you yourself were out there and won as well?
Jake Shields: Yeah, no, definitely. I mean, that was a really tough fight. You know, Masvidal I think is a really underrated fighter and a tough matchup for Gil, so we knew it was a tough fight going in, but he went out there and did what he had to do, and you know, brought the fight to Masvidal.
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, and you know what, you talk about just a surprise turn of events, not only did he beat Masvidal, but he out-struck him. He beat Masvidal at Masvidal’s game. And was that the game plan going into this, and what has Gilbert done to sharpen up his striking skills, because he looked like a different striker than he’s ever looked before?
Jake Shields: Yeah, you know, personally I would’ve liked to have seen Gil brought him to the ground and try to finish him on the ground. I think he has a big advantage on Masvidal there, but it just turned, you know, turned into a striking match instead, and Gil’s hands are really coming along. His standup keeps getting better and better.
MMAFightCorner.com: Now, you guys at the Scrap Pack, you usually stick like a tightly-knit unit. You plan on bringing anybody different in to help you plan for Akiyama, or is it business as usual?
Jake Shields: You know, it’s going to be my basic training camp, but I’ll probably make some small changes, try to find a couple good judo guys, which it’s a real treat if you’re fighting top-notch judo guys like Akiyama. There’s lots of good wrestlers, jiu-jitsu guys, and standup guys, but there’s only a few top judo guys, so I have to look around for that. But other than that, it’s just the same camp.
MMAFightCorner.com: And you’ve got your teammate Nick Diaz as well getting ready to take on Carlos Condit. You know, previously he was supposed to be fighting Georges St.-Pierre, who you fought two fights ago. What do you think about that Nick Diaz/Georges matchup, and how much were you able to help, you know, were you planning on being a key role in Nick’s training for that fight, and now it’s switched up? So I mean, talk me through that. How’s the camp dealing with all that?
Jake Shields: Yeah, well first, you know, I was really excited for Nick and GSP. I think it’s a phenomenal matchup. I think, you know, GSP’s a great fighter, and so is Nick. I think it’s a style clash. You know, Nick’s pressure could give GSP a lot of trouble, and unfortunately we’re going to have to wait to see that. But I think Carlos and Nick’s a great fight as well. I think their styles are a lot more similar, I just think Nick’s a little better everywhere. So, I think that’s a good matchup for Nick. I think it’s still going to be a good fight. Carlos certainly will be — I think Nick will be able to control that one and finish Carlos in a later round, which sets him up for a big fight with GSP [unintelligible] titles.
MMAFightCorner.com: Now, with Nick back in the UFC, and if he does win the interim title, so should we possibly expect maybe a move back up to middleweight for you?
Jake Shields: Yeah, I would think you. I mean, Nick and me don’t really have an interest in fighting each other, you know. We’ve been teammates for 11 years, and that’s something that’s not really on my list of things to do, so…
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, well, you’re lucky that you fought in both weight classes, so you have that option, and in Strikeforce you always had, because Diaz — you know, or actually even in EliteXC Diaz was 160, you know, you were 180 or 170. So, it’s kind of nice to have that option to go back and forth, doesn’t it? It feels good.
Jake Shields: Yeah, exactly. Me and Nick both go up and down weight. People are always like, you guys are going to have to fight in the UFC, and it’s like no. We fought EliteXC together, Strikeforce together, we’ve always just, even though we’re the same weight, we’re both guys that’ll fight anyone, so either one of us will go up or down. We always find ways to avoid each other.
MMAFightCorner.com: And you know, Jake, of course I love your style — you call it American jiu-jitsu, the blending of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and American wrestling, and I just think that’s so cool, and that’s I really think probably the most effective way of having a ground game.
Jake Shields: Yeah, you know, I definitely agree, that’s why I started calling it that style, because you know, I’m the all-American wrestler with a jiu-jitsu black belt, and I’ve kind of fused the two, you know, without the gi, kind of more aggressive style of constantly attacking, trying to push the pace in a [unintelligible], which is more, you know, good for MMA, that it’s just for jiu-jitsu.
MMAFightCorner.com: And you talk about pushing the pace, and you definitely always do. There’s something that, you know, people talk about, even — you know, I’ve got a buddy out here, Sean Spangler, and he’s trained with you a lot. He said he trained with you back in the day with Drysdale.
Jake Shields: Yeah, he’s a tough guy. I trained with him quite a few times.
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, and him and Jay Herron, and all these guys, the one thing they always say about you is you just have gas for days. You never get tired, you can always go. And the thing that blows my mind the most about that, and I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but you’re a vegetarian. So, tell me about A, how do you always have that high gas tank, and do you think it is your diet that gives you that tool?
Jake Shields: You know, I think part of it is because of my style. I always attack, which pushes me to get in good shape. It’s not — you know I do get tired, but I try to keep attacking, and I think that’s how you get into good shape, is by being aggressive and constantly attacking. But also, I do think the diet probably helps. I think, you know, I never really eat meat, so I can’t see the difference, but I have, you know, a bunch of friends that have gone between vegetarian and eating meat, and they all say they feel better when they’re eating a vegetarian or vegan diet.
MMAFightCorner.com: And you’ve never had meat in your life? No bacon, no meatballs, no steak?
Jake Shields: I’ve never had it. It makes it easy, because I don’t miss it, having never eating it. It makes it nice and easy.
MMAFightCorner.com: You’d never be able to get away with that in New York, I’ll tell you that right now.
MMAFightCorner.com: Now, do you find it hard? Like you said, you grew up with it, so I actually switched over, I tried a vegetarian diet for a while. Man, it was killing me, you know.
MMAFightCorner.com: It is hard, I did it for a while too.
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, I felt weak. How do you stay strong, get enough protein, you know? What is it you do to maintain that diet?
Jake Shields: You’ve just got to be careful to make sure you’re balancing the right foods out to get protein, and I also have protein shakes. You know, I get vegan protein sent to me. I’ve got one of my sponsors, Sunwarrior, they send me tons of vegan protein, which is a great product. And then, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting around to eating the correct foods. You don’t want to turn vegetarian and turn vegetarian and do it all wrong. You want to do a little research, if you’re going to do it.
MMAFightCorner.com: Wow. Joining us on the phone right now is UFC fighter Jake Shields. Jake, how do you see this fight going down in February with Akiyama?
Jake Shields: You know, I haven’t really put a game plan together yet. I’m just right now, you know, go out there and push the pace. I want to go out there and come back with a big win. You know, coming off losses, it’s really important to get back on track, and I want to put him away. So you know, I don’t really know the game plan yet, I have to figure that out.
MMAFightCorner.com: Last night after the fight, Gilbert made the statement that he’d like some UFC fighters to come down, and if he wasn’t going to be able to go there, have some fighters come down to face him for a bigger challenge. What would you say the biggest difference is, coming from Strikeforce and now that you’re in the UFC, what would you say the biggest difference is?
Jake Shields: You know, it’s just that you get more attention in the UFC for sure. I mean, they have a lot of the — you know, a lot of the same fighters jump back and forth. But overall, the UFC has a lot more good fighters, and they get a lot more attention.
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, they do get a lot of attention. The UFC’s everywhere now. And switching up a little, you know, we talked about hypothetical situations. Nick Diaz wins the welterweight title, so you did say that if that is the case, you’ll probably move up to middleweight. How do you see yourself in a fight with Anderson Silva?
Jake Shields: That’s a fight I’ve wanted for a long time. Anderson’s a phenomenal fighter, one of the best of all time, but I just think stylistically the guys that match up best against him are wrestlers with good jiu-jitsu. You know, like Chael did great with him until he got caught in a triangle right at the end. You know, his worst matchup’s against good wrestlers and jiu-jitsu, and it’s just he’s a great matchup. Obviously it wouldn’t be an easy fight because I think he has the best standup in the sport, but that’s a fight I would love an opportunity to do.
MMAFightCorner.com: And you guys actually, I mean, I’m hoping for this, because you guys kind of were on a collision course back in that Ramble of the Rock Tournament when he got disqualified. I don’t think he should have been disqualified.
MMAFightCorner.com: The up-kick.
MMAFightCorner.com: The up-kick, but you know…
Jake Shields: We were going to fight in the next round, you know, in my fight, and if he would’ve beaten Okami, but then he got disqualified. Yeah, we were about to fight. I was that close to fighting him in the past, never had the opportunity. And I think that was his last loss, even though it was a very controversial loss, I’m pretty sure that’s the last time Anderson’s lost.
MMAFightCorner.com: Yeah, so that’s a fight that I was looking forward to watching then, and I’m hoping to see Nick with that strap so I can see you at middleweight and give Anderson a run for his money.
Jake Shields: Yeah, me too, you know, I’d love to see Nick take that belt. And then you know, at that point I’ll try to get through Akiyama and then probably start putting on some weight.
MMAFightCorner.com: Well, you talk about how you’re just getting ready to start camp. How beneficial is it that you and Nick are kind of going to be going through a camp at the same time?
Jake Shields: You know, it helps. It always helps to have the guys training, but we’re lucky with our team. We train year-round. We always have someone getting ready, so even when we’re not in camp, we’re still training. So, we’re always there for each other. So, you know, even when I’m out of camp, I’m still training four or five days a week. So, it’s not — with camp, the only difference is I’m running a lot harder and pushing the sparring a lot heavier.
MMAFightCorner.com: Well Jake, we know you’re on limited time right now, and we want to thank you for joining us in the MMA Fight Corner, and wish you the best of luck with your fight coming up on February 26th with Yoshihiro Sexy Akiyama.
MMAFightCorner.com: Maybe you’re going to pull the sexy out, Jake.
Jake Shields: Yes, I’ll come up with a cool nickname like him.
MMAFightCorner.com: You’re going to go to Japan, and you’re going to bring Sexy back. Come out to Justin Timberlake.
Jake Shields: I’ll have to come up with some cool slogan.
MMAFightCorner.com: In a body bag. All right, Jake, be well, man. We’ll talk to you soon.
Jake Shields: All right, thanks, bye.