GSP claimed a unanimous decision victory over Jake Shields this evening to retain his title and maintain his unbeaten run, but it wasn’t his most inspiring performance despite 55,000 Canadian fans cheering him on.
The opening round started slowly with both fighters trying to feel each other out. Shields managed to catch an early leg kick from St.Pierre and tried to use it to take him down, but the champion showed terrific balance and managed to escape – something he would do again later in the round which must have been disheartening for Shields.
As the round progressed GSP began to loosen up and started working his jab effectively, sending Shields reeling back at one stage after one particularly clean connection. He also attempted a few spinning kicks which didn’t land, but gave the challenger something else to worry about.
On to round two and even at this early stage Shields seemed to have abandoned his attempts to take the fight to the floor, and looked somewhat lost in the stand-up battle.
By contrast GSP looked confident and continued to work behind his jab effectively, while also throwing the occasional overhand right over the top for good measure. He appeared to be operating very much within himself at this stage and by the bell there’s no doubt that the champion was now two rounds up on the scorecards.
There was more of the same in the third as Shields frankly looked out of his depth in the stand-up battle and feeble with his takedown attempts, while St.Pierre continued to coast to victory with his jab much as he did against Josh Koscheck late last year.
The only change in pace came at the very end of the round when GSP suddenly opted to go for the takedown, throwing him to the floor and held him there for the final 20 seconds.
GSP started round four with a takedown but then backed away rather than engage with his opponent on the mat. Soon after St.Pierre connected with a head kick that dropped Shields, but the champion didn’t capitalize quickly enough and Shields recovered and got back to his feet.
Despite losing the stand-up battle soundly, Shields was having some success with his striking as the champion’s face was marked up and bleeding, and it seemed to give him confidence as he started to taunt GSP.
However, this just came across as a little odd and awkward as though Shields is less marked up he’s undoubtedly losing the bout.
And so it’s on to the final round and there’s nothing new to report as the fight continues in much the same fashion as the previous four with St.Pierre appearing content to outpoint Shields in the striking, while the challenger continues to implement a puzzling strategy that involves no serious attempts to take the fight to the floor despite that being his best, and perhaps only chance of victory.
That leaves the fight in the judges hands, and it’s GSP who claims the unanimous decision victory (50-45, 48-47 x2).
After the fight St.Pierre reveals that a punch in the second round hurt his eye and left him unable to see out of it for the rest of the fight which affected his performance.
Overall it’s a disappointing end to what was otherwise a terrific fight card right the way down to the preliminary card.
It’s clear that St.Pierre is just leagues ahead of the rest of the 170lb division and perhaps he needs a major test, such as a ‘superfight’ with Anderson Silva to really bring the best out of him.
As for Shields, his fifteen fight winning streak has now come to an end, and the reality is that he was made to look average for much of this bout.