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Jake Shields and the Persistence of Loss

Jake Ellenberger d. Jake ShieldsApologies in advance for the non-Kickboxing content, but this is my site and I'm allowed to post whatever I please.

Are MMA fans heartless? This is a question I find myself asking on the morning after UFC put forth one of their weakest cards to date, headlined by Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger did something that only one other man has done and that was knock Shields out, which is impressive. It is impressive when you consider the strikes Shields had held strong against, from Martin Kampmann, Paul Daley, Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit and so on. Jake Shields has been a guy who has always held strong against guys who can hit hard, and even held his own against guys with a more well-rounded ground game than him.

So the question is, what happened against Jake Ellenberger? Ellenberger is a former KOTC and IFL veteran who was added to UFC’s roster to little fanfare and has just accumulated his fifth win in a row in the UFC, which would be impressive until you look over the list of opponents. Jake Shields is far and away the biggest win of his career and no one can ever take away that accomplishment. Ellenberger proved the age old adage in MMA that styles make fights, and Ellenberger has a solid Div II wrestling background, a blue belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu and years of kickboxing training under his belt. Without a doubt Ellenberger is well rounded and at age 26 could have a career as a contender, with his win over Shields being a launching point. We’ve seen fighters in other divisions get title shots for less, especially in a division like Welterweight that has almost entirely been cleaned out by the champion, Georges St. Pierre.

Ellenberger was a tough fight for Jake Shields no matter how you looked at it, but there was a factor that played into the fight that not everyone can understand or empathize with. Jake Shields lost his father, Jack Shields on August 29th suddenly, without warning. Jack Shields was working on securing sponsorships for this fight when he sat down to rest and never got back up. By all accounts, Jack Shields was an important figure in Jake Shields’s life, described as always going out of his way to be around his son while training or fighting. A bond between a father and son like that serves as a lifelong best friend, mentor and many, many other things.

As I stated before, no one can take away what Ellenberger accomplished last night, as he did his job and racked up the biggest win of his career, but a lot of talk about Jake Shields right now is confusing at best, heartless considering the facts. Many have decided to dissect Jake Shields and his career, deciding that after a loss to GSP and now a loss to Ellenberger to claim that Jake Shields has been overrated by fans and that his career benefited from being outside of the UFC. I’ll argue that any fighter can get caught on a bad night by a strike that lays them out, that styles make fights and even the best fighters in the world have losses, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is Jake Shields is a human being and the loss of a close loved one is something that until you experience it, empathizing with it can be difficult.

Jake Shields is of course an athlete, that is his profession and it places him and every move he does in the public eye. That being said, Jake Shields is first and foremost a human being who just suffered an insurmountable loss. To lose a loved one quickly, without a chance to brace yourself and mentally prepare for it is traumatizing and in some cases crippling. I understand that for Jake fighting and continuing on felt like the right decision, as I can say I’ve done similar when in a similar position. Everyone thinks that they are tougher than they really are, and that doing something constructive can help keep them grounded, but the truth is everyone reacts differently to circumstances like this. Jake Shields has a rough road ahead coping with the loss of his father and in light of this loss should take some time to regroup and reflect.

On the other hand, Jake Shields doesn’t necessarily deserve a pass for a loss, but instead some human empathy and let him recover and give him a chance to fight again before declaring him overrated, washed up and a bum.

If you for some reason can claim that when fighting there are no excuses or any other tough guy mantra, realize that everyone has achilles heels, that no one is invincible. After the loss of his sister, Vitor Belfort pulled out a win over Randy Couture, sure, but in the year to follow he pulled together a four fight losing streak and many said something in him had fundamentally changed. Some artists, writers and musicians never recover from a loss and spend the rest of their careers and lives living inside of their heads ruminating their loss. Famous American author and poet Edgar Allen Poe was so crushed by the loss of his wife that friends had found him sleeping on her grave months after her death, with many of his works after her death being credited to being about her loss.

So I urge you, before deciding that Jake Shields “sucks” and was “never any good” try to remember that he is human and should be given at least one shot at redemption before we collectively judge the state of his career.

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Alistair Overeem Makes a Cameo in Music Video

K-1 World Grand Prix 2010 Heavyweight Champion and now former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem has a big fight coming up as he makes his UFC debut, squaring off against Brock Lesnar. Apparently in one of his past trips to California he ended up plopped down in the middle of a set for a music video for "electro-pop" group LMFAO. If you are like me and are an adult male who has not flicked on the radio in the past ten years, the fact that this music exists can be alarming, disturbing and mildly amusing, but to each their own. Alistair Overeem appears in this video, which at least makes it sort of manly. This is LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" music video which includes men in banana hammocks shaking their stuff. Thankfully Overeem refrains from, to quote Mrs. Bluth, "waggling his pickle."

If this isn't for you, see how it's done for fighters in music videos after the break.

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Paul Slowinski Knocks Out Steven Banks in Australia

Photo by infinitemma.com

Paul Slowinski stepped into the ring down under this morning for his third bout of the year. His opponent, the American Steven "Panda" Banks, has both stand up and MMA experience.

Banks weighed in at 307 lbs. Add on his height of 6'6" and he had a huge size advantage. Slowinski overcame the size advantage though, battering Banks before stopping him with a hook to the body in the third round. Apparently Banks took a huge amount of punishment over the course of the fight before finally being stopped. The win marks Slowinski's third of the year and extends his win streak to six, with all the wins coming by KO or TKO.

Slowinski has some interesting options in front of him. He's been rumored to be heading to MMA, with his name popping up as a possible participant at KSW in November. There's also the K-1 World Grand Prix Final 16 on October 29th, and Slowinski's face was shown on the press release for it. Simon Rutz stated that Slowinski was one of the fighters that would be available to compete at the Final 16.

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K-1 Announces 11 of the 16 Competitors for FINAL 16 in Nanjing

K-1 Event Producer Sadaharu Tanikawa held a live U-Stream press conference today regarding the 2011 World Grand Prix FINAL 16 in Nanjing, China on October 29th.

Regarding China and the venue, Tanikawa announced that K-1 has plans to return for the WGP Finals later this year in China or another area in Asia. FEG has a joint deal with regional broadcasting company Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation. From what I've gathered, this station only broadcasts in the Jiangsu province, so I'm not sure if there will be any way for the rest of the country to watch it. The venue for the event is the Nanjing Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium which holds 13,000.

Tanikawa also announced that It's Showtime's Simon Rutz is going to cooperate with K-1, and has made Badr Hari, Tyrone Spong, Daniel Ghita, Hesdy Gerges, Ruslan Karaev, Melvin Manhoef, Ben Edwards, Sergeii Lascenko, Rico Verhoeven, Anderson "Braddock" Silva, Paul Slowinski, Dzevad Poturak, Mourad Bouzidi and Rustemi Kreshnik available to K-1 for the Final 16. K-1 also mentioned they have been in talks with Jerome LeBanner, Peter Aerts and Bas Boon. Unfortunately, defending champion Alistar Overeem will be unable to compete due to his UFC contract.

The competitors that K-1 has announced for the event so far are Badr Hari, Hesdy Gerges, Tyrone Spong, Ruslan Karaev, Daniel Ghita, Ben Edwards, Melvin Manhoef, Dzevad Poturak, Sergii Lashchenko, Rico Verhoeven, and Anderson “Braddock” Silva. There's video of the press conference, with English subtitles, after the break.

 

UPDATE: Hesdy Gerges said on Twitter that he's set to face Errol Zimmerman.

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