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UFC 129: Randy Couture & Jake Shields as two huge underdogs in the public’s eyes

By Zach Arnold | April 25, 2011

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That’s the big challenge this week when UFC does the last-minute hard sell. Are enough fans convinced that either man can win their big fights?

“Here’s the thing. You know, I think a lot of people, again, have written Randy Couture off. I haven’t. I’ve been saying for a long time now, I still consider Randy Couture one of the top 10 Light Heavyweights in the world. And… I think that Machida is going to have problems with Couture. I don’t think that Machida’s going to go in there and just walk through and destroy Randy Couture. I think it’s going to be a tough fight. I think Randy Couture always takes his fights serious, he’s always in great shape, he’s always healthy, and he always comes up with great game plans. And I’m sure he’s got one for Machida. He texted me a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘this guy is very interesting.’ So I’m sure he was watching tape or whatever it might be and… it’s going to be a tough fight, but what does it do to Machida? The fact that I still consider Couture, you know I don’t watch, you know… I don’t, uh… believe half the bullshit rankings out there that they have. I think Couture is still top 10.

On why Lyoto Machida could be vulnerable…

“I think his style has kind of backfired on him a little bit. The thing, the style that got him all those wins all these years is kind of backfiring on him now. I don’t think people figured it out, but he lays back a little too much and doesn’t, you know, when he’s aggressive and we’ve seen what he looks like when he’s aggressive. Thiago Silva, you know Thiago Silva’s a tough guy who will stand up with you, go to the ground, whatever it is and we saw what happened there. If he, I think he needs to be more aggressive and come forward and he’s definitely going to have to be that way with Couture because Couture’s going to be right in his face the whole fight.

All of the talk heading into the UFC 129 fight about this being Randy Couture’s swan song…

“Back when Couture was 38 I said I won’t count him out any more. You can’t count Randy Couture out. I don’t care if he’s 68, I mean the guy is a freak of nature.

“He’s been saying that since he was 36, you know? He’s 56 now! *laughs* Who the hell knows?

Jake Shields’ confidence level sky-high heading into UFC 129 main event

From Sherdog radio interview last Friday.

“This is an opportunity that I’ve (wanted) for years. There’s a lot to lose. If I lose this, I’d be devastated. I mean, in one sense I have nothing to lose because the world’s not picking me or anything. But, you know, for me it would be pretty bad.”

Confidence that he can beat GSP on the ground, both on top and from his back position…

“Yeah, I think so, you know. I mean, I think GSP has good jiu-jitsu, I’m not saying he doesn’t. He’s got great posture, he’s great on top but I’ve been working on lots of submissions off my back and lots of sweeps and being really aggressive with him, not just kind of sitting there and waiting. A lot of guys in the past, if they’ve actually taken him down, they’ve gone for a couple of submissions but haven’t really hunted for them. I’m looking for more of an aggressive game. I feel like I definitely hold the advantage any time it hits the ground.”

Chael Sonnen & Matt Lindland were blown away when training with Jake a couple of weeks ago…

“We train really, really hard at our camp. I think that’s why we’re so successful and that’s why we’re confident. Some people will say we’re cocky and stuff but I don’t think it’s that way. We’re just confident in our skills and believe in ourselves. I think that’s why we’ve been going out there winning and winning. If you don’t believe in your skills and what you can do, you’re not going to be the best in the world. You’ve got to believe in yourself first because clearly if you don’t you’re not. Like when I went into the (Dan) Henderson fight, everyone said ‘you’re not going to win,’ but my whole camp believed in me. We all went into that fight knowing I was going to win, so it’s like you have to have positive people surrounding you.”

The final week of preparations…

“Pretty much the training’s done now. Pretty much I’ve done everything that I can do. I’ve done all the hard work, all the hard sprints, I have a couple of hard workouts… a couple of hard runs, but pretty much everything’s done. It’s a matter of staying healthy and not doing anything stupid. I believe Toronto’s going to be insane, the amount of media there and the amount of people and fans. I’ve been to Toronto before a couple of months ago and they were already going crazy for it, so imagine how it’s going to be when I get out there now.”

Being the bad guy, the big heel in Toronto at UFC 129 in front of 50,000+ fans…

“It doesn’t really bother me. I have my team come with me so I have people around me and a lot of the fans in Canada are actually pretty nice, a couple of months ago at least they were swarming me for autographs. Who knows, they might be booing me now. I have a feeling they’ll be swarming me for autographs and yelling at me when I’m far away.”

Topics: Canada, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 9 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

9 Responses to “UFC 129: Randy Couture & Jake Shields as two huge underdogs in the public’s eyes”

  1. Jonathan says:

    Let me say it now that Jake Shields has zero chance of beating GSP. I gave a co-worker 5 to 1 odds to take that bet. That is how much I believe that GSP will dominate him.

    As for Couture and Lyoto, I feel that Randy has more of a shot to win his fight than Shields does is, but it is not that great of a shot. I gave that co-worker 3 to 1 odds to take Randy.

    • Light23 says:

      GSP/Shields is a pretty good match up and is nowhere near as one sided as you think.

      The only thing is, if Shields wins it’ll be a tough, slogged out win, like a lot of his fights. That leads to people underestimating him.

      Shields is nowhere near as incapable on the feet as people make out. He’s not going to KO fools, but he gladly stood with Robbie Lawler long enough to get the sub, and he was landing a lot of kicks. He’s also working very diligently on it.

      He’s also incredibly tenacious. He just keeps treading on, determined to win. It’s never easy for him, but he always manages to get it done.

      I’d be pretty surprised if GSP manages to finish Shields.

      • edub says:

        “Shields is nowhere near as incapable on the feet as people make out. He’s not going to KO fools, but he gladly stood with Robbie Lawler long enough to get the sub”

        A minute and a half? I mean that point is correct and all, but he “stood with him” for a minute and a half before shooting, creating the scramble, and the guillotine. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

        Jake shields is not a bad fighter. He is a legitimate top 10 pfp guy. But styles make fights, and he matches up horribly with GSP. GSP should finish Jake, but if he doesn’t he will most likely dominate him anyway.

  2. EJ says:

    I have no clue why Couture is an underdog to Machida who’s been figured out and Randy has basically been scouting him for years. I expect another vintage Couture performance and “upset”, I also expect him to come back by the end of the year from his latest retirement.

    On the other hand unless GSP is overlooking Shields and not preparing the right way for him than he should not only win but dominate and finish him in the first couple of rounds.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      Shields will have to do to GSP what he did to Henderson.

      GSP can be taken down. Koscheck did it at the end of round 1 but stopped trying to grapple by the end of the round.

      Most likely, Shields gets tagged during the early rounds and he just can never recover.

      • EJ says:

        Kos is a much better wrestler than Shields is so are guys like Fitch and Hughes who GSP has dominated. That’s the problem with this fight for Shields his wrestling isn’t up to par and his submission while good have never submitted a top guy. Unless GSP is sloppy and walks into something there is nothing short of a hail mary punch that Shields can do to win this fight.

        • edub says:

          His wrestling is better than Fitch’s, and probably on par with Hughes. Jake Shields is the same guy that just out wrestled Dan Henderson for 5 rounds. He had trouble with Kampman, but still got him down enough to eek out a win (as opposed to Diego who could barely get one).

          As I said earlier, this won’t help much though. On Par with Hughes will get him thrown just like Hughes got. Jake Shields is a great wrestler in MMA. GSP is the best wrestler in MMA. Big difference.

    • The Gaijin says:

      “I have no clue why Couture is an underdog to Machida who’s been figured out and Randy has basically been scouting him for years. I expect another vintage Couture performance and “upset”, I also expect him to come back by the end of the year from his latest retirement.”

      Put down that doobie, brother. Couture cannot take a punch to save his life anymore…he got a gift decision against Brandon Vera and besides that was fed Mark Coleman and James Toney…Randy could scout him as much as he wants, but Machida has KO power, a clinch that will eat up Couture if he tries his cage’n’pray and far too much speed. Unlike Jackson and Rua, he doesn’t have to worry about ol’ pillow fists catching him with a KO punch, so he’ll most likely score early and often when Couture tries to move in on him as his gameplan requires.

  3. Kelvin Hunt says:

    GSP is going to do to Shields what he did to Fitch..punish him for 5 rounds…and win a decision…Machida is going to beat Couture…let’s face it..Couture has fought gimme fights the past couple of outings and hasn’t fought in a year…was dropped by Lesnar, Big Nog, and Vera…Machida is going to hurt Couture standing and finish him ala Chuck Liddell at UFC 52.

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