Let's get this out of the way. GSP beat Shields. I'm glad he won. A couple of the judges had GSP losing two rounds, but I don't see it. It doesn't matter, because GSP ultimately won the decision, and he hurt Shields a few times. But if Shields could take bombs from Hendo, he sure as heck could take GSP's punches. We all knew this. (Forget Sports Science. There is a world of difference between managing to put in powerful punches in a controlled environment, vs a real fight when your opponent is trying to take your head off). But on a night when you had some amazing finishes (especially Machida's wonderful KO of Couture), you had the main even suck the life out of the card. This time, it wasn't Shields' fault. Shields came to fight. No doubt. The blame is on GSP.
This performance was nowhere near as bad as Anderson Silva laying an egg during the Demian Maia fight. But it wasn't terribly exciting. It is clear GSP is afraid to lose. While that can be healthy to a degree, it is causing GSP to fight way too safe. Now I'm not saying one should risk their life and career for a win, but there were many chances when GSP could have finished, but he didn't. He avoided using his best weapon: his positional control and ground and pound. All because he didn't want to roll with Shields.
GSP got his eye injured midway through the fight. I understand his panic, as eye injuries are nothing to scoff at. In the immediate future, I don't think his eye injury is serious, but I think this will effect GSP in the long run. GSP has fought through adversity before. When BJ beat him up in the first round of their first fight and made him bleed, GSP dug deep and gutted out the win. When GSP sprained his groin against Alves, he still pulled off takedowns like nothing happened. However, I am afraid that this eye scare will change GSP yet again. I think this eye situation will make GSP MORE conservative in his fights. This man puts his health above anything else, and that is something to applaud. However, I believe this will only make a more cautious GSP. If that's even possible.
Look, I'm not knocking the guy for wanting to win by taking the least amount of damage possible. My gut feeling after watching the event is that even though GSP won, why do I feel like he lost? I've tried to explain it, and I apologize if I failed to articulate my grievances appropriately (I've had a beer or five) but there is something deeply unsatisfying about his last few fights. It's not a feeling easily described. Do I hold GSP to a higher standard than other fighters? Yes. Is that fair? No. But can I help the way I feel? No. Am I a spoiled fan? Probably. I might feel different tomorrow morning, but in this moment, as a diehard GSP fan, I am disappointed. The card overall was amazing, and I figure in time, people will look upon this as one of the best cards. Ever. I just wish GSP got the finish.
EDIT: So what do I think has to happen? Someone has to push GSP. GSP is so far ahead of the curve it's not even funny. Someone has to hurt him and put him into troubled situations. Put him down on the score cards so he has no choice but the finish. Unfortunately, I don't see anyone in the WW division that can do this.