JAKE SHIELDS (-475) vs BRIAN FOSTER (+325)
WELTERWEIGHT BOUT (170 LBS)
World Series of Fighting kicks off 2015 with their sixth show in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas, Nevada. WSOF 17 features a main card of four fights but none bigger than the main event: top ten welterweight Jake Shields versus the explosive, Brian Foster who is on a red-hot four-fight winning streak. Both Shields and Foster were former UFC veterans with winning records before being controversially released.
Foster, the Finney’s HIT Squad fighter’s hard-hitting aggressive style led him to a 3-2 record with the promotion with his last win coming over current contender, Matt Brown. A series of health issues: a brain hemorrhage and an exploded testicle (as a result of an inadvertent groin strike) led to his release in 2010, which is around the time Jake Shields signed.
Shields posted a 5-3-1 record with the UFC with notable wins over the division’s best including Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. Initially brought in to challenge Georges St. Pierre for the title in 2011 (which he lost by decision), Shields developed an unpopular style as a fighter who grinded out slow-paced decisions. A lopsided loss to Hector Lombard led to his dismissal.
Now both Shields and Foster are fighting not just for a shot at the WSOF Welterweight Championship (also held by former UFC vet, Rousimar Palhares), but to make a statement that both are still very much a top contender in the overall rankings.
Shields and Foster represent the classic “grappler versus striker” matchup. Shields has one of the division’s best if not the best jiu-jitsu games (black belt under famed Cesar Gracie) he terms “American Jiu-Jitsu”. He passes guard well, has sneaky takedowns and controls his position effectively throughout the fight. His 11 submission wins include current UFC Welterweight Champion, Robbie Lawler. The balance to Shields is his limited but serviceable kickboxing, NCAA Division II wrestling and surprisingly tough chin. He survived some of the hardest hitters including former Strikeforce and Pride Champion, Dan Henderson. It’s with these tools Shields uses to grapple aggressively and wear out his opponents then either submit them or control them long enough to win. Not the prettiest style but very effective.
Foster is the opposite. A former protégé of Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler, Foster has only gone to a decision once (his last fight). If Foster keeps the fight standing, there’s high likelihood he eventually puts the opponent to sleep either by hitting them with his heavy hands or knocking them down where he’s versed enough in BJJ to earn a submission.
Shields should avoid standing with Foster for too long, mix up his striking and capitalize on an aggressive Foster to secure the takedown and eventually a submission or decision. Foster should keep the fight standing, sprawl and brawl and balance his output to avoid gassing out. Overall, Shields has more methods to victory and a gritty Foster will give a fight but eventually succumb to the submission.