Dana White: Shields Next In Line for Title Shot


Jake Shields file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com

Georges St. Pierre still has some work ahead of him at welterweight.

The 170-pound champ has run roughshod through the division over the last three years, working over the best the weight class has to offer. If he gets by Josh Koscheck at UFC 124, it will mark his fifth successful defense of the title. But regardless of who wins that fight, UFC President Dana White has his sights set on a championship matchup involving one the of UFC's newest talents.

Jake Shields is at the top of the list if he gets by Martin Kampmann [at UFC 121],” said White during Tuesday's UFC 124 press conference.

UFC 124 will be headlined by the aforementioned title fight between between St. Pierre and Koscheck, going down at the Bell Center in Montreal on Dec. 11. Both fighters, along with White and UFC Canada President Tom Wright were at the press conference this afternoon and fielded questions from the media.

St. Pierre shocked the former NCAA All-American in their first fight at UFC 74 in 2007 by out-wrestling Koscheck from bell to bell, putting the former national champion on his back several times.

“He's got a great wrestling pedigree. He's one of the best wrestlers in MMA, but it's not a wrestling match. It's an MMA fight; it's a different thing,” said the champion. “I always fight against my opponent's weakness. If I'm champion, it's not because I'm the strongest, the fastest or the best wrestler. It's because I bring the fight to where he's the weakest.”

St. Pierre has expressed his distaste for his last performance at UFC 111, in which he earned a dominant but uneventful unanimous decision over Dan Hardy. In this defense, St. Pierre is looking to end the fight.

“I care about winning, but also about how I win. I'm not happy with my last fight [against Dan Hardy at UFC 111]. I wasn't able to seal the deal. I know now what I did wrong, and I'm the kind of guy who never makes same mistake twice. I will finish the fight. He'll tap, or if he doesn't, his limb will break. I'm going into this fight to win by knockout or submission. I want to take him out and finish the fight.”

The French-Canadian was also asked about the mind games being employed by the challenger and whether they will affect his attitude heading into the fight.

“Yeah, [he's gotten under my skin], but that's a good thing. I've performed my best against the guys who have been arrogant. [Look at my fights against] Serra the second time, Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn. I feel more pressure, like I'm right on edge of falling, and I can't step back. That's when I'm at my best, and so it's perfect for me,” said St. Pierre.

“GSP” also claimed that the bad blood between the two is nothing personal, at least not on his end.

“I like the mind games. Fighting is not personal for me. I'm going to promote the fight. I'm going to do my best, and after the fight I'll shake his hand. But that doesn't mean I like to be in the same room with him. He's arrogant, and I'm going to fight him. But in a year, there won't be any animosity for me,” said St. Pierre. “If you put two roosters in same cage, they're gonna fight each other. You can't have two alpha males. There can only be one champion.”

His opponent says that if he's irritated the champion, it's been incidental, and that it's all part of promoting a big fight.

“That's not my goal [to anger St. Pierre], although I probably did,” said Koscheck. “I'm here to win fights. I'll fight anybody, anytime, anyplace. He's got all the pressure. He's the champ. There's no pressure on me. I'm coming in with clean slate, and I'm gonna train hard. The thing about it is that I don't need motivation. I love to fight. I don't need motivation to fight.”

Like the champion, the challenger is aware of his past mistakes and isn't looking to repeat them.

“I'm a better fighter than I was the first time we fought. That first fight, I thought he was a karate guy, so I worked on my standup, because I didn't think he could take me down. But George is a fast learner,” said the former All-American. “This definitely is not a wrestling match. I believe I could beat him pretty easily in a wrestling match. But you have to become a complete fighter. You have to work on your takedown defense, your ground game, your striking game.”

Koscheck, who coaches opposite the champion on “The Ultimate Fighter” season 12, has made several disparaging remarks toward the champion, claiming that it would be especially painful to lose to a “French guy.”

“I'm not a racist by any means. It's called expression. It's me putting on a performance and putting butts in seats. I have fun with it. I'm here to make money and to have fun and to win fights,” said the American Kickboxing Academy product. “When it's [no longer fun], and I can't express myself, then it's time to get a new career. [The Bell Center] is going to be packed. It's probably going to be the loudest crowd in the history of the UFC. My goal is to piss 20,000 people off, hop on a plane with the belt and get out of here as fast as I can.

Also mentioned at the conference was the UFC's future in Canada.

“Canada is the second biggest market for UFC. I'd come here every weekend if could,” said White. UFC Canada President Tom Wright added: “MMA was just sanctioned in Ontario, so we'll probably do an event sometime mid next year. It will probably be sandwiched between events in Vancouver and Montreal.”

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