Jake Shields In many ways Jake defines the prototypical Diablo athlete. More student than prodigy, more grit than natural ability. Jake came to Diablo way back in late 2005 to prepare for the upcoming Rumble on the Rock tournament. The field was absolutely stacked with such names as Frank Trigg, former UFC title challenger Renato Verissimo, former UFC Champ Dave Menne, the future greatest of all time Anderson Silva, future UFC title challenger Yushin Okami and future UFC champ Carlos Condit. Wow, what an unbelievable line up!
Jake took his Diablo training seriously and worked hard for this tournament as his first fight was against Dave Menne, an MMA legend. I was impressed by Jake's work ethic the entire training camp. For those who don't know the preparation leading to a high level fight can be brutal often with 3 trainings per day 6 days per week. In addition to his daily striking and jiu jitsu sessions Jake would make the hour plus long drive to make room for his strength training. It paid off, Jake dominated Menne and moved into the second round. The Rumble on the Rock tournament had a unique lay out. Starting with an 8 man field the winners of the first bracket would move on 3 months later to the second round where the semifinals and finals would have to take place in the same evening. That's right, to win the tournament you have to fight, and win against two top contenders, in the same night. And that is exactly what Jake did besting a very tough Yushin Okami and then beating Carlos Condit to win the whole thing.
Looking back on it I always expected Jake to win, every time. Although he possessed a limited striking game he was a smothering grappler with an iron chin and great cardio. I believe his training at Diablo gave him the tools to maximize his potential. Following Jake's triumph at the Rumble on the Rock he went on to string together 14 straight wins which, at the time, was the longest winning streak in the entire sport of MMA. Along the way he garnered two world championships in major promotions, one in the Elite XC promotion and the other as the Strikeforce world champion.
Jake's tenure at Diablo lasted over 5 years. I believe Diablo was the longest constant in his training thru that time. The last fight I trained Jake for was his UFC title fight against the legendary George St. Pierre (GSP). This fight was a culmination of everything that had been worked for in his career up to this point. In the end, I believe the in ring game plan was too conservative and Jake dropped a close 3 rounds to 2 decision. What was notable however was the fact that GSP had not lost a round in his last 7 fights. So close, what could have been!
As Jake's storied career winds down he leaves a legacy as one of the greatest welterweights and middleweights the sport has ever seen. When training Jake I felt that he was possibly one of the last athletes in a major sport who would make it to the top with such limited natural athleticism, a true testament to his character, work ethic and belief in himself.