LOS ANGELES – Jake Shields was bred to be a beast in the ring. The life-long vegetarian always has lived a lifestyle that has provided him with the type of brute strength, determination and tremendous heart required to be a successful Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter.
So far, Shields has met with nothing but enormous success.
Raised in a remote area in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, Shields has been wrestling competitively since he was nine years old. When he was just five, Shields would climb over neighboring mountains to visit his nearest friends an hour away. Now, he is ready to take on a new obstacle: the ranks of the MMA welterweight division as he prepares to fight Ido Pariente on Saturday, June 2, 2007, at the LA Coliseum.
Shields will make his SHOWTIME debut for ProElite/EliteXC during a one-hour telecast on SHOWTIME that begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The pay-per-view portion of the June 2 mega event, entitled “ProElite presents Dynamite!! USA,” will immediately follow (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) and feature up to six bouts. It will be produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME® PPV.
With the new opportunities provided from his recent signing with EliteXC, 2007 should represent the most important and active year of fighting for the rising star. Shields will fulfill his dream of pursuing the welterweight ranks with some of the toughest competition in the world in EliteXC.
“It is an amazing opportunity for me to fight for EliteXC,” said the five-foot-11-inch, 27-year-old Shields, who made a name for himself and got recognized as one of the top fighters in his weight class without competing for a major organization. “I have fought all over the place, so it is nice to be in a big show in the United States. I have fought in some big shows in Japan, but, now I am here with ProElite and ready for the big time.
“With viewers all over the world watching, I will perform my best.”
Known for his technical grappling and amazing cardio, Shields has fought the world’s meanest, roughest, toughest fighters and has consistently been ranked in the top 10 of the welterweight division.
Shields captured the Shooto Championship in 2004 and won the Rumble on the Rock Grand Prix Tournament in ‘05. Now, he will face one of his sternest challenges when he faces the mysterious Pariente.
“I don’t know too much about Pariente, only that he is a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu,” Shields said. “I have to go and feel him out and see where he is best. I don’t know if he is better on stand-up or ground.
“I just have to go out and see how good Pariente’s hands are and see how good his ground is. From there, I have to decide where to fight him.”
Being the favored fighter against an up-and-coming opponent is a different situation for Shields. For much of his career, he has been the unknown underdog who manufactured shocking victories against some of the sport’s most notable fighters.
“When I first started, I was kind of unknown and they would put me up against guys ranked three or four in the world,” Shields said. “It is always nice to win fights like what when you go out and they expect you to lose.”
With his recent domination of the welterweight division, Shields has moved from the mystifying underdog to the favored star. Now that the stakes are raised and Shields is expected to triumph in a blockbuster event televised across the world, he knows he must rise to the occasion.
“I think you feel more pressure when you are supposed to win, as opposed to the guy who is supposed to lose,” Shields said. “Hopefully, I will get my first knockout on June 2.”
The recent fame and success is a big change for a vegetarian hippie kid who grew up in the desolate Sierra Nevada Mountains.
“I had long hair when I was a kid, so I had to fight a lot,” Shields said. “It got me kind of tough. I never thought I wanted to be a fighter. But, I started doing it as a hobby and kind of got hooked.”
While Shields now resides in San Francisco and fights on Cesar Gracie Fight Team, he has not forgotten his organic roots. He still manages to stay in optimum shape on his strict vegetarian diet and plans his training and travel accordingly.
“When I was fighting in Japan, I started bringing my own little stove so I could cook my own food,” said Shields about his unorthodox diet. “In the U.S., I am able to find vegetarian food. But when it is fight time, I try and bring extra food with me.”
Shields has come a long way from his hippie up-bringing and has big plans for 2007 and his future with EliteXC.
“I want to stay more active because I want to fight a lot this next year or two,” Shields said. “I want to stay busy and take all the belts.”