The upcoming bout between Jake Shields and Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley may prove to be one of the most explosive matches of UFC 161 – especially of the UFC 161 prelims. Both of these former Strikeforce fighters have great backgrounds in the MMA world, and it’s difficult to determine who is going to come out on top in this fight. As Shield’s cauliflower ears can attest to, he has a serious grappling history as a Cesar Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and an All-American wrestler. Woodley, aside from having great striking and a night-ending right hook, was also a Division 1 All-American wrestler in college, and proved that he can take out BJJ submission artists by knocking out Andrew Galvao. Although Shields has height and experience in his favor, the Chosen One has a one-inch reach advantage, and with his power-packed right hand, that could prove to make the difference if this UFC fight stays standing up.
Both of these fighters are about equal as far as conditioning in concerned, but with 14 of his wins coming by submission, Shields has shown that he can grind out a win against well-seasoned warriors if he needs to. He fought George St. Pierre to a decision, and even though he lost, going toe to toe with one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world is nothing to scoff at. Shields took home a bronze medal at the ADCC grappling championships, and a gold at the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu championships – two of the toughest and most prestigious grappling tournaments on the planet. With 10 of his 27 wins by way of submission, Shields has shown that he can end a fight from any position. He held the welterweight title belt in both EliteXC and at Shooto in Japan. He also was the middleweight champion in Strikeforce, showing that he can contend against fighters of different sizes and styles. He trains with tough, world-class fights like the Diaz brothers, and has beaten big-name brawlers such as Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Carlos Condit and Dan Henderson.
Woodley has only suffered one loss in his professional MMA career, getting knocked out by Nate Marquardt in Strikeforce. With a more well-rounded style than Shields, the Chosen One displays serious strength with huge takedowns and slams, and has great ring control and cage presence, which could put Shields on the defensive.
This is honestly anyone’s fight, and we can’t be sure if the victory will be by knockout, submission, or decision. If Shields wants to win this bout, he’s going to have to stay away from Woodley’s right hand and use that quick single-leg of his to close the distance. Woodley has great takedown defense, but his submission game isn’t as varied as that of Shields. As with all welterweight bouts, this fight is guaranteed to be extremely entertaining for anyone who wants to see a slew of striking and takedowns from fast-paced fighters eager to prove that they deserve a chance at the title. Shields is definitely hungry for another shot at St. Pierre, and he’s going to have to get past Woodley to do it. That being said, Shields already had his shot at the champ, and Woodley isn’t inclined to let him have another one without a fight.