While GSP is the clear favorite over Jake Shields in just a few hours from now, the current spread is not so much a matter of disrespect to a very game and accomplished Shields, but it points more to St. Pierre being a definitive future Hall Of Famer that is seemingly still improving.
Still, the odds-makers seem a little overzealous in calling it on average -450 and better for Georges. I’ve been talking with some long time die-hards and odds aficionados that all have similar reactions to the line … it’s a bit exorbitant.
This may be especially true given two important factors. Shields may come in significantly heavier than GSP, and Shields will also definitely be able to get GSP on the ground at least a handful of times. These two factors give a “Ground and Pound” master like Shields a chance against Anderson Silva, let alone GSP.
And we have not even taken into account a recent chat GSP had with TATAME in which he revealed his love of Jiu Jitsu as his greatest passion. He calls it his favorite sport... certainly the most enjoyable and challenging part of his daily training regimen.
Now GSP is no fool, and aside from a very difficult fight and set of circumstances against Serra, GSP has shown “fight smarts” that few have equaled. He is up there with the likes of a strategy master like Couture... increasingly so since the Fitch fight at UFC 87. Georges will likely approach this fight somewhere in the middle between cautious on the one hand and determined to finish the fight on the other.
But if ever GSP was EVER going to break pattern and get reckless, it would be this fight. GSP is a very different kind of cautious fighter. Really the smartest kind of all, a guy that knows how to win without taking damage, but at the same time he has the highly desirable killer instinct and burning drive to improve and do great things. Sometimes great things means more than just winning.
So tonight’s odds may be just a bit lopsided considering this point… that GSP may be drawn into Shields' strength out of pride, confidence, a drive to challenge himself, or just a combination of all three.
Were Georges to remain ultra-cautious and play this one safe the current odds would be perfectly in line, but considering the likelihood that GSP will welcome the challenge of tesing Shields on the ground at least once if not several times tonight, the line is far too wide.
Georges’ visible admiration for his personal Jitz gurus Renzo Gracie, John Danaher and Roger Gracie, combined with his passion for learning and pushing himself are strong indicators that St. Pierre is very much interested in challenging Shields in his own area of strength.
We’ve seen St. Pierre take on this challenge before. We’ve seen numerous occasions of GSP out-wrestling top of the food chain wrestlers. We saw a distinct desire to box with BJ Penn (briefly considered one of the best boxers in MMA), and we also saw a total lack of trepidation against Serra on the ground in the rematch.
St. Pierre is the best cautious fighter in the business when he wants to be… just don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a guy that wants to shine. GSP wants to be in the conversation for “All time great”, not seemingly out of ego, but more out of a freakish desire to raise himself to his own personal limit. I guess its about having no regrets when all is said and done.
Despite Georges being a smart fighter, don’t discount the risk his passion for Jiu Jitsu will likely put him him into. Don’t discount that he’s human after all and is vulnerable to a desire to impress his aforementioned gurus.
While he is likely to win this fight, and while he may even win it on the ground, he is not as likely to play it safe as in previous defenses. For this reason the line is out of whack. -300 for GSP is about right. At -500, bet Shields.