You’ve got the biggest fight of your career coming up, defending your Strikeforce Middleweight Championship against Dan Henderson. Is it more important to retain the belt or show you can compete with a legend like Henderson?
Yeah, definitely. For me, it’s not just about the title—I obviously want to keep the title—but it’s about Henderson. He’s one of those few names in the sport that’s well respected, and I just want to show the world that I’m at that level.
You’re a dedicated father. What does your daughter think about her dad fighting?
To her it’s never been a big deal. She’s just always been used to me fighting, so to her, it’s been part of my life.
If you could be one superhero, who would it be?
A lot of them are cool—Superman because he can fly and do a lot of cool stuff.
Your teammate Gilbert Melendez calls you a hippie. Why?
I don’t eat meat. Other than that, there’s nothing really hippie about me.
You’ve trained with the Diaz brothers for nearly a decade. As a result, do you find yourself randomly yelling “209!”?
Every now and again I do. A lot of people don’t know this but I grew up in the 209. So I was actually from the 209 until I was 18. I claim it with them. 209 bitches! Even though I’m in the 415 now, I’m from the 209, so that makes me legit.
Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro?
I like them both, but Robert DeNiro.
You don’t have a fighting nickname. Do you have a personal one? And if you could choose a fighting nickname, what would it be?
Everyone just calls me Shields or just Shieldsy. I haven’t heard one I like, that’s why I don’t have one. Everyone tries to give me shitty ones like Snake. I like my name, so I’ve just stuck with not having a nickname. Jake the Snake, that’s so cheesy, there’s no way I’m going with that.
There’s a lot of financial sacrifice involved in fighting. What did that mean for you?
When I was first fighting, I didn’t have any money. I was living broke like a college student. San Francisco is so expensive—little apartment, driving a crappy car, and eating what I could eat, not eating out. It was definitely tough for the first five or six years, but obviously the sacrifices were all worth it now.
You began your career in the sports darker days. What were some of the strange happenings from those days?
The strangest thing I ever saw was some hick in cutoff jeans fighting some big fat girl. There were a lot of strange things but that was probably the strangest. Lucky [for him] the guy won. He ended up knocking her out. It was in some tent on some old Indian reservation.
You colored your hair blonde at one point. Is that the biggest regret of your career?
Yeah, I did it blonde that one time. I didn’t get a very good reaction so I gave up on that. All the girls said go back to the normal color. I listened to their advice and gave up the Tito Ortiz look.
You have a reputation as a ladies’ man. What does it take for a woman to win over Jake Shields?
I’m not a big fan of all the fake groupie girls. I like a girl who is herself. I like the sweet, nice girls.
What girl is so hot you’d freeze up around her?
Jessica Alba is pretty damn hot, so is Angelina Jolie. Those are two of the hot ones.
Any words about your nemesis Frank Shamrock?
I don’t think there’s much to say about him. He’s just a washed-up nobody out there talking, trying to keep a name out there when his time has been up for years.
What pawn shop did you sell your Elite XC belt to?
It’s at my house. Even though it’s not worth anything, I still want it. I’m keeping it.
What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
My iPod is pretty good. The most embarrassing walk out song I ever came out to was All the Small Things by Blink 182. That was an accident. I was warming up, they asked what I wanted, I said throw on some old punk music. I came out and I hear All the Small Things. I was like, this is not old punk music. After that I learned I better pick my own song. It was terrible. It was when I fought Yushin Okami. I was walking out, I almost wanted to turn around and go back into the locker room.
Good thing you didn’t because you won that tournament.
That song got me motivated. After coming out to that, I’d better win. Come out to that and get beat up, there’s no redeeming yourself from that.
Absolutely. Jake Shields is returning to CBS. What should fans know?
I’m going out there to win. Dan Henderson is going to be a great fight so I can’t wait for it.
Tune in for Shields vs. Henderson bout on CBS on April 17.