Friday, November 6, 2009

Strikeforce Fight Week Preview: Jake Shields vs. Jason Miller

I've already gone on record in a couple different places saying this will be the Fight of the Night. That's what happens when you get a guy who likes to submit people fighting a guy who just doesn't tap.

While my prediction for this fight has been known to readers of my work at Bleacher Report, that won't stop me from breaking in down FWP-style as always. I mean, just because I think Mayhem is going to win doesn't mean I can't discuss the finer points of this outstanding match-up.

Some would call that remaining objective; undoubtedly, others will call it an attempt to pad my stats. I don't care what you call it, as long as you read it.

Jake Shields (23-4-1) vs. Jason "Mayhem" Miller (22-6-0, 1 NC)

The Cesar Gracie black belt is head and shoulders ahead of Mayhem in terms of training; while Miller is the big dog in the yard and does most of his training solo, Shields is the captain of "The Scrap Pack," a collection of Gracie students that includes The Diaz Brothers and Gilbert Melendez.

In terms of experience, these two a neck-and-neck; both have close to 30 fights and have been inside rings and cages with some high caliber 170 and 185 pounders over the years. Combined, their list of competition really is quite impressive.

Strength of schedule falls in favor of Shields, as his current 12-fight winning streak has included Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Nick Thompson and Carlos Condit, while Miller's most recent wins came over Kala Hose, Hiromitsu Miura and Tim Kennedy.

From here on out, the fight gets real interesting, at least to MMA geeks like me.

First off, Shields is a natural welterweight, having fought the bulk of his career at 170 with a couple of catchweight fights interspersed for flavor. On the other hand, Miller has been making 185 routinely for the last five years and isn't a small middleweight either.

The former EliteXC Welterweight champ has stated he wants to fight in both classes, so packing on 15 pounds of muscle is out of the question.

While Shields certainly looked great in his 182-pound catchweight win over Robbie Lawler, the chances of Miller getting caught in a standing guillotine are slim and none, which brings us nicely to the next wrinkle.

Simply stated, "Mayhem" will not quit. He might take a nap and he might end up with a broken limb, but the guy is not going to tap. This is a guy who grins his way through fights and went 15 minutes with GSP while covered in blood.

Additionally, the Bully Beatdown host actually has some strong defensive skills on the ground. People seem to mistake the fact that Miller hosts a TV show with him being a sub-par fighter and that simply isn't the case. You don't last ten years in the business if you don't know what you're doing.

There is no question that Shields is going to look to win this fight on the ground. Anyone who wants to point to his improved stand-up and tell me that he was handling Robbie Lawler on their feet last time out needs to remember the fight lasted just two minutes.

This one is going to last far more than that. Besides, Mayhem has better stand-up.

The key to this fight is going to be who scores more points where they are least comfortable; can Shields steal a round standing and trading or can Mayhem weasel out a 10-9 with solid defense, submission escapes and reversals?

We'll find out Saturday night, won't we?

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