Jake Shields: “I Go One Day A Week To Different MMA Gyms For New Sparring”

Jake Shields: “I Go One Day A Week To Different MMA Gyms For New Sparring”



Shields with Cesar Gracie and the Diaz bros

Jake Shields is training hard for his upcoming UFC fight with Demian Maia. Both are elite level BJJ black belts but The 34-year-old Californian calls his style American jiu-jitsu, though, owing to his reliance on not just submission maneuvers but also the takedowns and transitions from his freestyle wrestling background. In an interview with Sport’s Illustrated, Shields talked about what he expects to bring to the table against Maia and how he also likes to have to train 1x a week in different MMA gyms:

“I’m extremely excited to be fighting a guy who is most likely going to want to play right into my strengths. I’m not saying Maia can’t submit me, because he’s one of the best and I have a lot of respect for him. But I welcome going to the ground. I’m confident I can hold my own and even submit him. That’s what I plan on doing.”

“I want to go out there and mix it up,and see who can submit whom.”

In search of the best that’s to be found inside of himself, Shields has looked outside his comfort zone. He’s trained forever with the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu team, working on a daily basis — for year after year — with the likes of Nick and Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. During this fight camp, however, he’s taken one day a week to go to a different gym for sparring:

“Those guys are my team, they’re my brothers, they always will be,” he said. “I love those guys. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. But when you train with someone so many times, you develop familiarity. I know what Nate’s going to do, what Nick’s going to do, what Gil’s going to do. I know their styles. So I go off and work with less familiar sparring partners.”

That extracurricular pursuit gave Shields a rude awakening one day recently. He was at the American Kickboxing Academy gym and was paired with a young fighter for a couple of rounds:

“Who the hell is this guy?” Shields asked himself afterward, making a mental note to look up “this nasty Russian” on the Internet when he got home. It turned out to be Khabib Nurmagomedov, the 21-0 lightweight who is making a name for himself in the UFC. “I thought he was just some kid being thrown in to give me some easy sparring,” said Shields. “Well, he is one tough guy, really legit. I liked his hunger.”

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