Welterweight Championship – Jake Shields (21-4-1) vs. Paul Daley (18-6-2)
The lone championship match on the Elite XC card, champion Jake Shields takes on British brawler Paul Daley for the Welterweight title. Billed as the best of America versus the best of Britain, this is also a perfect battle of striker versus grappler in MMA. The defending champion is the better-rounded of the two fighters, but Daley is the most complete striker that Shields has faced in his career.
Jake Shields is a former college all-american wrestler who made the jump to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has turned into a dominant grappler. A product of Cesar Gracie’s BJJ school, he is a world champion grappler who titles include first at the Pan Am Games and third at the ADCC open weight tournament. He is a very seasoned fighter for someone of his age, who has managed to fight the best competition available despite never having stepped into the octagon. Shields has high-profile wins over the likes of Hayato Sakurai, Mike Pyle, Yushin Okami, and Carlos Condit. After the 63 second drubbing he put on Nick Thompson in his last fight he is riding a 10 fight win streak that extends back to 2004. I think I can definitively say that Jake Shields is the best 170lb fighter in the world not in the UFC.
Shields’ strength is his grappling, as he can make a case for the best submission grappler in the world at 170lbs and not many would argue. Unlike many of his Gracie Jiu Jitsu brethren, he has adapted his BJJ quite well for the world of MMA with 4 of his last 5 victories by way of submission. To say that Cesar Gracie has made an impact on Shields’ life would be an understatement as he is 18-2-1 since joining the team. Shields’ standup is always a work in progress, while early in his career he used it strictly to get the fight down to the mat where he could dominate the fight he now can stand and trade with most fighters on the feet and still cause damage. As with all of the Cesar Gracie students, his conditioning is impeccable and can push a pace in a fight that few can tolerate. Shields has evolved into a complete fighter who can truly beat you anywhere in the fight.
Paul Daley is a kickboxer from Britain who sported a 10-3 kickboxing record with 10 KOs before making the jump to MMA. He is originally trained in Karate from an early age, but later in his career has fully embraced Muay Thai while training part time in Holland. While fighting almost solely in Britain, he has compiled an impressive KO ratio in his wins on his way to the current Cage Rage welterweight championship. He is a devastating striker with knockout power in his hands and feet as he has demonstrated time and time again. While flirting briefly with retirement, he has come back to take his first big fight on American soil and take his second welterweight belt home with him.
Daley is very well rounded striker with traditional Karate kicks and extensive Muay Thai at his disposal as well as very good boxing. His speed, athleticism, and sheer power often take opponents off guard even when they think they have prepared for it. As his striking has matured it has shown in his results, as none of the fights in his six fight win streak have gotten out of the second round. His ground game is still a work in progress as four of his six losses are via submission. His defensive ground game has shown some improvement but he is still very susceptible to taking damage in the guard as well as vulnerable to submissions. It’s a simple game for Daley. Keep it on the feet and he has a chance to win.
This is a striker vs. grappler matchup on steroids as you have maybe the best striker at 170lbs against one of the best grapplers in the world at 170lbs. The obvious applies here, whoever controls the flow of the fight wins the match. If Shields can stand and trade successfully long enough to set up a takedown and get Daley to the floor, this match is going to be over quickly. If Daley overwhelms Shields with his speed and athleticism and catches Shields thinking too much early, this will be a quick match the other way. I have to go in the direction of the favorite here, as Shields has shown a fantastic chin his whole career as he has never been knocked out. Shields should be able to handle Daley on the feet long enough to take him down and take an arm or choke him out. I think this is the best Elite could do and one more reason that Shields should be doing everything in his power to get into the UFC. I predict Shields via submission in round one.