“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.” You can walk into any locker room across the globe and you’ll hear a coach preaching that mantra to his players. Athletes are saying it to each other before taking the field.
Mixed martial arts, however, is starting to make its own twist to the old adage – Winning impressively is the ONLY thing.
There are plenty of fighters that win. In fact, there were 10 just last night alone at UFC Fight Night 29. But, can you put butts in seats, draw big pay-per-view (or TV) numbers and have the arena buzzing while winning in spectacular fashion?
If you’re asking Jake Shields (pictured), the answers to those questions, in no particular order, are: No, no and no.
Despite bumping his professional record to an impressive 29-6-1 (NC 1) by posting a split decision victory over Demia Maia, the UFC’s fourth ranked welterweight, Shields didn’t do much for himself in terms of cracking the top 10 polls or entering title talk discussions.
He certainly didn’t win over any new fans with his grind-it-out W. Did he lose any fans? Probably not, because whoever was riding on his bandwagon was already well versed to his aesthetically unappealing style.
Regardless, a win’s a win, right? No so much in modern day MMA.
Shields can continue to stockpile victories, but the UFC won’t give him another crack at champion Georges St-Pierre with countless unanimous decisions on his resume, particular since GSP already cruised past him.
So, where does Wednesday’s win leave Shields? After 37 pro fights, with 20 of them resulting in decision, you certainly can’t teach the 34-year-old dog any new tricks.
Is he simply a solid UFC fighter who headlines free events on Fox Sports 1 (they certainly wouldn’t let him headline a FOX show)? Another big name used to fill out the main card on a pay-per-view? Perennial gatekeeper?
Before every event, UFC president Dana White tells his fighters to perform in a way so fans remember them the next day. Unfortunately for Shields, most are trying desperately to forget what they saw last night.