In case you missed it yesterday on Fighters.com, UFC Light Heavyweight and UFC Tonight host Chael Sonnen broke down the main card of UFC Fight Night 29: Maia Vs Shields. However, with a middleweight main event as interesting as Demian Maia and Jake Shields, we had some specific questions on the strategies of each fighter. Fighters’ Senior Writer John Petit spoke with Sonnen last week, and he delved deep into five round battle that takes place tomorrow night in Brazil. Sonnen chose Shields to win the fight by decision, but he had a lot more to say about the bout.
John Petit: Should Shields turn this into a standup fight and avoid a ground fight with Maia?
Chael Sonnen: No absolutely not, go fight your fight. You should never worry about what your opponent is going to do. You have to focus on number 1. Georges St-Pierre went as far as to say that Shields has the best jiu jitsu in the UFC, not just in the division. Whether that’s true or not really doesn’t matter. It just has to be close, thats all you need. You don’t see a lot of black belts in the UFC getting submitted. It doesn’t matter if they are taking on a higher level black belt. Statistically speaking there aren’t a lot of submissions happening on guys of Jake Shields caliber. Shields can win this fight by getting to the top position and working from the top. I think its going to be real quick moving and technical fight. Both of these guys are brawlers on the feet, but both of these guys are absolute technicians on the ground. It’s a very beautiful thing to watch. Demian Maia, in his first 4 UFC appearances won submission of the night four times, and I was one of those victims. He is so good and slick down there, but I don’t think he is going to submit Shields.
JP: Demian Maia’s striking has come along way. Does Maia have a chance to Outstrike Shields?
CS: Well, I think every statement is true if you include the word chance. Both those guys get criticized for their standup skills, but the reality is no fan, no announcer, no pundit, none of us are in any position to determine what a good punch was. Only the guy getting hit with it can tell you that. I pushed back because I heard Maia’s stand up skills criticized. I fought a lot of guys, 49 professional fights, and I have never been hit as hard as when Demian Maia hit me. I’m not just saying that because we are talking about his fight, I have said that in the past. I always give the same answer, Demian Maia. It wasn't pretty or technical stuff, but the bottom line is that it landed and it hurt. Other guys have commented on how much his punches hurt. Who cares what they look like? If they are touching you they hurt. His wrestling is pretty sloppy too, but he gets on top. He got on top of Jon Fitch for 15 minutes. He got on top of Rick Story like it was no problem. Would you rather have a beautiful technique or an effective technique. The only thing that matters in the octagon is the effectiveness. That’s what Maia has.
CS: These guys are mirror images of each other, right on down to the heart and determination. Both of these guys have an iron will to win. Generally when all things are equal, that's what you turn to. Who wants it more, and who is in better shape.