Commentary

Pros' picks: St. Pierre versus Shields

Updated: April 28, 2011, 12:41 PM ET
By Mike Sloan | Sherdog.com

Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre will defend his crown against top contender Jake Shields before some 55,000 fans in the UFC 129 headliner on Saturday at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

St. Pierre has been on a tear since he regained the 170-pound title from Matt Serra, winning eight consecutive fights. During his streak, he has toppled Serra, Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy and Josh Koscheck (twice).

Enter Jake Shields. The San Francisco-based welterweight will enter the cage on a 15-fight winning streak. In fact, he has not lost in more than six years. Can Shields end St. Pierre's reign?

Sherdog.com recently caught up with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the Shields-St. Pierre main event:

Duke Roufus: Shields comes from the tough Cesar Gracie team, but I have to go with GSP, by the new Roufusport-inspired off-the-cage technique for his 55,000 Canadian fans, called "The Flying Maple Leaf."

Brendan Schaub: GSP by however he wants to. He'll probably put on a boxing clinic and get a TKO in the fourth round. He's such an extraordinary athlete that he can and will dictate the fight.

Greg Nelson: Another great fight. On the feet, it is GSP. Shields seems to have some issues with his striking, standing and on the ground. Takedowns and takedown defense once again goes to GSP, who has become the best takedown guy in the business. On the ground, we have a real battle. Shields is one of the best ground control fighters now fighting. He has gotten all of his fights to the ground, and there he has won all of his fights. GSP can keep it on the feet, be the guy attacking [with] the takedown and staying on top. He will win. I give the W to GSP.

Mike Whitehead: GSP by TKO in the third.

Cesar Gracie: Jake by a decapitating guillotine.

Stefan Struve: I think GSP will have another dominant performance. I don't see Shields giving him too much trouble on the feet, and I don't think he will KO him with one big shot, either. He might be dangerous on the ground with submissions, but I don't think he'll be able to take GSP down. I don't think GSP will take any risk in his guard, so in my opinion, GSP by decision or TKO in the later rounds.

Ricardo Liborio: If GSP doesn't get taken down and submitted, I pick GSP winning by decision.

Jaime Fletcher: Shields has dangerous wrestling, and his submission skills reflect the true meaning of a black belt. However, I don't think Shields' stand-up is enough to set up his takedowns where he can have an advantage on the ground. I'm not sure Shields can keep it there, either. I see a pretty similar outcome to this fight as GSP and Koscheck, but with more violence between these two. I think GSP will win by decision once again. Maybe I'll have some pizza, popcorn and Diet Mountain Dew with coach [Erik] Paulson while I watch.

Gilbert Melendez: Shields by submission.

Nate Marquardt: GSP will win all five rounds. Jake may be tough to finish, but Georges will dominate. I train with Georges on a daily basis and can't see him losing this.

Travis Lutter: GSP is going to be hard to beat in this one. Shields has better BJJ, but he is going to be on his back, so my money is on GSP.

Robin Black: This fight will be primarily on the feet, and Georges will make Shields' face look like poutine -- a French-Canadian delicacy that looks disgusting but is actually delicious -- before finishing him in Round 3 or 4.

Jeff Monson: GSP by decision.

Nam Phan: First, I just want to say that GSP is the man, but I gotta root for the underdog. Let's get 'em, Jake.

Matt Pena: I particularly am not excited at all for this fight. I see GSP picking Jake apart with a bunch of safe striking. I believe he will have opportunities to open it up and Rounds 4 and 5. However, the appeal of staying champion will make this kind of a boring fight. I do not blame GSP one bit, though. One mistake, and he's playing catch-up on the ground, and he doesn't want that against Jake. I still have to go with GSP. Always comes in shape and way too many tools to win this fight.

Jorge Masvidal: GSP by jab to the face as much as he wants and better wrestling, as well.

Jason Lambert: GSP by decision.

Sam Hoger: Shields has a slim chance, and GSP owns the world they will be in. However, the last time GSP was so far ahead, he fell so far behind at the hands of Matt Serra. He learned from his last mistake [and] I think it will be a short night. GSP by KO.

Ray Elbe: American jiu-jitsu and Shields' wrestling are enough to make this fight interesting, but there is a reason that GSP is considered the top fighter pound-for-pound. If this turns into a grappling match, Shields is more than capable of getting an upset victory, but I think GSP pulls a Charlie Sheen and just keeps winning.

Buddy Clinton: Attempting to find an advantage either way for this matchup is damn near impossible. Striking, wrestling, submissions, conditioning -- they both have it all. The only advantage could possibly go to Shields for having a little size on St. Pierre. Both could knock the other out at any moment, pull off a last-second submission or go the distance. Both want this win, which could lead to fighting not to lose instead of fighting to win. This one goes the distance, and until someone beats the champ, I see St. Pierre winning by split decision with the home-field advantage.

Sean Loeffler: So this fight reminds me of the time that Nick Thompson and Derrick Noble were getting picked on one summer in a park by the social kids or socs. The fight ended up in a fountain, where Derrick, whose nickname was "Ponyboy" at the time, was being drowned by the bullies. So in a panic Nick, whose nickname was "Johnny," stabbed one of the attackers to death. Next, they came to the house where I was partying at with some naked chicks. By the way, my nickname in our gang was "Dallas." Anyways, I informed them that they should go to the country to hide out. There, Johnny and Ponyboy ate sandwiches and even bleached Ponyboy's hair blonde. They also saved some kids from a burning church, but Johnny was badly burned, so a little while after that, I came to get them and we went home. Next, the rest of us all rumbled the socs in a park in honor of our recently deceased hero friend, Johnny. I then was shot by police running away from the fight, and Ponyboy was told in a letter written by the deceased Johnny to stay gold. What does this all mean? Like in "The Outsiders" … oops, I mean, like in my past, I think that this will be a rumble, with Jake having to hide out in the country from St. Pierre's wrestling. He will eventually have to come back to the center of the Octagon and that will be his downfall. GSP by third-round TKO. Stay gold, Jake. Stay gold.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: I am not a GSP fan; never have been, never will be. I pray that Shields submits him, but GSP is likely going to notch another decision. I think Shields has a much better shot at beating Anderson Silva than he does to beat GSP. Shields is big, strong and explosive at middleweight. At 170, Shields seems weaker and slower and his cardio suffers. I believe he cuts too much weight, and it will be his downfall. GSP wins this fight by one-sided decision, using his jab effectively.

Benji Radach: I'm pulling for my boy Shields. He has the work ethic to stop anyone if they slip at all. GSP may have a few more ways to end this fight. However, I don't think Jake is taking him lightly and he's doing everything in life to take on the monster, like visualizing his past career, his struggles, hardships and triumphs and putting this all together for this one fight that he has been dreaming of for years. I talked to him about a year ago in Vegas, and we talked about this very fight. I see Shields at his best ever. GSP best be ready.

Tom Gavrilos: This is the most exciting matchup that can be made in the division right now. From what I saw, Shields does not enjoy standing and avoided it at all costs when he fought [Jason] "Mayhem" [Miller]. I'm 100 percent sure GSP saw that video. Unlike with Mayhem, Shields' wrestling will not be enough to take and keep GSP down. Shields is too one-dimensional for someone with as complete a game as GSP. He has to submit GSP; it's his only chance, and unless he somehow stuns him first, I just can't see it. Look for GSP to keep it standing and put Shields on his back a few times for points and maybe some safe ground-and-pound. Shields has heart in spades and won't just go away easily, so I have to go with GSP by decision.

Michael Guymon: I know everyone and their mother is taking GSP over Shields. I'm going with Jake. This fight will hit the ground one way or the other, whether it be Shields taking GSP down or GSP taking down Shields. [In] either scenario, I see Jake physically turning into an octopus and submitting Georges -- the end.

Adam Singer: This fight scares the hell out of me. Does GSP play it safe like he did with Koscheck? This could be a boring 25 minutes. Can Shields take this fight to the ground and capitalize? Which Shields shows up? Right now, my gut says five-round decision for GSP, but I sure hope Shields turns this into a full-throttle scramble-fest. Go Jake.

Keith Berry: GSP will win this fight by whatever he wants. [In my opinion,] Martin Kampmann beat Shields back in October, so I don't think Jake has much of a chance. So my final answer is GSP by [whatever he wants].

Brian Warren: I am looking forward to seeing this one. I really like the way both these guys are beating everyone in their way, and they keep getting better as they compete in the highest level of MMA. They always fight the best out there. GSP is one of my favorite fighters; I like his style. But I fought Jake way back in the day, so part of me wants Jake to win so my stock in MMA goes up [laughs]. I just want to see a good fight and both guys come out of it not hurt. If I had to make any prediction, I would say that we might see GSP on his back for the first time in a while, or Jake eating a lot of jabs and leg kicks. Final answer: GSP by a tough, hard-fought five-round fight.

Jeff Joslin: In the end, I think Georges wins this fight by using and sticking to a very solid game plan, which he always seem to do so well. Here's how I see this fight going down: GSP will use a lot of movement early in the fight, looking to strike hard and fast with jabs and crosses. I don't see him throwing a lot of kicks initially while Shields is fresh and still explosive with his takedown attempts. If he is able to land those strikes often on Shields -- which I believe he will -- I see him then driving in hard for the takedown and getting the top position. I don't believe he will finish Shields, but if Jake gets back up to his feet, I see the same sequence of events happening over and over again. GSP by TKO due to strikes from accumulative damage or unanimous decision.

Ron Foster: Shields has amazing BJJ. Too bad it won't help him on the feet, though. We have all seen the stellar takedown defense that GSP has, and I doubt that Shields will be able to get him to the ground without sustaining a ton of damage. In my opinion, this fight will look like a sparring match, with GSP landing pop shots for the first two rounds and Shields trying his best to close the distance. Shields will begin to gas badly by the third round after struggling to get the fight to the mat and being unsuccessful. I think the third is where GSP will really pick up the pace and try to make a statement by taking out a battered and beaten Shields. GSP has a lot of critics for not finishing fights lately, but I think he will silence them all with a dominating TKO victory over a game but overmatched Shields. I have a ton of respect for what Shields has done in his MMA career, but he has never faced a fighter with the tools and skills that the much faster GSP will bring to the table. GSP retains the UFC welterweight title with a TKO stoppage by ground-and-pound.

Ryan Ciotoli: I am going with St. Pierre because he has a distinct advantage in the striking department. I think the grappling will cancel itself out. Shields is going to get picked off on the feet and lose a unanimous decision.

Brad Pickett: I think it will be an easy win for GSP. He is so well-rounded; it makes him so comfortable wherever it goes. As for Jake, he is great on the floor and has good wrestling with no stand-up, really, so it will be hard for him to set up a takedown. I see GSP taking him down and putting him on his back like he did with Serra, and I don't think Jake is as good on his back.

Stephane Vigneault: GSP will have a tougher fight [than] people think but will win a unanimous decision by outstriking Shields and because of his athleticism.

Chance Farrar: When applicable, I always root for the American. Unfortunately, Shields' cardio at 170 pounds is still suspect. Throw in GSP's stand-up advantage -- note, his jab -- with his already stellar takedown defense, and it makes him a clear winner. But like I said, go USA.

Pete Spratt : The major question for me is will Jake overcome his conditioning issues for this fight? This will be a great test for him, as we all know of GSP's great conditioning, athleticism and well-roundedness. With that being said, if Jake has solved his cardio issues, then it will be GSP by unanimous decision. If he hasn't, then GSP by stoppage in the third round.

Roli Delgado: I'm picking GSP by devastating jab. Wouldn't be surprised to see Jake real banged up. Too much skill discrepancy standing. GSP by knockout.

Gabriel Ruediger: People are discounting Jake too soon in this fight. He did have a poor showing in his last fight, but I would attribute that to his body getting readjusted at 170. Jake's BJJ is very good, and he has finished a ton of good guys. That being said, I still think GSP will out-game plan Jake. I hate picking against people I consider friends -- which Jake is -- but, subjectively, GSP should win.

Elvis Sinosic: Every time I post my picks, I write a novel and I get hell for it. GSP for the victory.

Shamar Bailey: I think Shields has a chance as long as his game plan revolves around what he's good at.

Eric Pele: I'm a real big fan of both fighters. I think this is one of GSP's biggest fights to date; Jake is a beast, and he has a ton of weapons that he brings to the table. He can compete with GSP wherever the fight goes. With that said, I'll be picking GSP for the decision. I think they're fairly even in all areas, but if GSP uses his range and striking with that nasty jab he has, it's gonna be a long night for Jake, a la Koscheck. Then again, we're talking about Shields here; he is just as nasty on the ground. Boxing may be the sweet science, but this fight is gonna be like poetry in motion -- just beautiful. Can't wait.

Jeremy Luchau: As much as I would love to see Shields bring home the strap, I just can't see him doing so. Shields had difficulty holding position with Kampmann, so I don't see him doing any better with GSP. GSP by decision -- again.

Yves Edwards: I don't see Jake being able to take GSP down, and in the stand-up department, I think GSP puts his stuff together better. I just don't see anyone beating St. Pierre anytime soon.

Travis Wiuff: GSP by decision by using his great jab, takedowns and ground-and-pound. Shields is too good to finish and GSP is too good to be submitted on top. I see this being a pretty boring fight. Both guys are great and will have a hard time finishing one another.

Rex Richards: GSP via TKO, Round 2.

Guy Mezger: Not very excited about this fight. If this fight doesn't end early, then I have a feeling that Shields will do what he does or GSP keeps it on the feet, avoiding too much clinching. Not sure if that makes an exciting fight. I hope I'm wrong. GSP does have a way of taking guys out of their game plan with his versatility. Shields is pretty predictable but is good at it. He seems to find ways to make it work. I am going to take GSP on this one.

Matt Hamilton: GSP. Lots of boxing. But hey, I thought Lawler and Henderson would beat Shields, too, so … anyway, GSP by TKO late.

Tom Vaughn: Shields is a badass grappler, but I just don't see how he gets this fight where he wants it. GSP has the up game and takedown defense to make a mess of Shields, and I don't see it happening any other way. First and second rounds, GSP will dismantle Shields, and [in the] third round, he will finish him by TKO.

Tim Kennedy: This is an awkward one to call. Jake has been a longtime friend all the way back to the days when I first started at The Pit. He was the one that brought me in and introduced me to MMA. GSP is a fellow team member at Jackson's MMA, so I hate to make a call against him. I think the question is all about wrestling. While Jake's stand-up is underrated, it is not nearly at the level as GSP's. Conventional wisdom would say that Jake needs this fight on the ground. I'm going to call an upset and go with Shields by a close decision. He will drag the tight, short, girl-worshipped, 170-pound champ to the mat over and over.

Kultar Gill: Shields is a great fighter but nowhere the level as GSP. Shields has great jits but will be unable to take GSP down. I can see GSP picking him apart with long and fast strikes and finishing with ground-and-pound in the third.

Jorge Rivera: I think GSP will win the fight by stoppage due to strikes as early as the third round and as late as the fifth. His stand-up is more than Jake has ever had to deal with, and I think it will fluster him the same way Dan Henderson did in the first round of their fight.

Mike Constantino: I think Shields will submit GSP; not sure exactly what kind of sub, but I see him at some point locking something up and becoming the new UFC welterweight champion.

Pros Picking St. Pierre: 43
Pros Picking Shields: 5
No Pick: 4

Mike Sloan is a contributor to Sherdog.com. You can also contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19..

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