Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his UFC welterweight title against Jake Shields but failed to finish the challenger. His performance left many unhappy, as GSP was content to fight safe while taking more damage than he has in years.
Much of the damage was the result of a right hand thrown by Shields that landed on the champion's left eye. It was plainly obvious that this really bothered St-Pierre for the rest of the fight. In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the champion stated that his vision was blurry and he could not see out of his left eye.
Count me among those who were left wanting after the fight. Until I was reminded by my wife, "Don't be so harsh. You have no idea what it must be like to function with one eye."Of course my wife is the queen of sarcasm. Few know better than I what it is like to function with just one eye.
When I was 6 years old, I was scratched in the eye by a cat. I was very fortunate that the doctors were even able to save my eye, but it required major surgery rendering the eye nearly useless. The lens was removed and the retina had to be reattached.With my good eye closed, shapes and colors are still visible. But once I open the good eye, my brain shuts down the less functional left, only using images from the right.
I am now 30 years old and this injury has not stopped me from doing many things in life. It only required that I make minor adjustments. Growing up I wrestled and played soccer and baseball. While soccer and wrestling came easily, baseball forced me to change my batting stance and to listen to advice from my teammates on ball placement, due to a lack of depth perception. Still, relatively small tweaks and I was able to be successful in that sport, too.
It wasn’t until I took a couple boxing classes that I really felt at a disadvantage. Being right handed, I utilize an orthodox stance. My opponent just needs move to his right and he becomes virtually invisible to me.
In much the same way, if GSP couldn’t see out of his left eye, Jake Shields became invisible as he moved to the right. Often throughout the fight, St-Pierre was switching his stance from orthodox to southpaw. This could have been a strategy to keep the challenger guessing, but also could have been the champion ensuring that he was able to see Shields.
When GSP reached the corner after eating the right to the eye from Jake Shields, even Greg Jackson was having trouble calming the champ's concerns over his eye (UPDATE: It appears that GSP was actually poked in the eye by and open hand shot from Shields as opposed to getting punched). Though over 24 years ago, I still vividly remember the day that my scratch happened. The panic and the pain. It is unlike other injuries because you know that it might be permanent. There is no question that this affected GSP mentally for the rest of the fight.
I do believe that GSP would have finished this fight and really opened up on the challenger in the championship rounds. I suspect that was part of the game plan. But fighting with one eye and with the panic stemming from not knowing the permenance of the injury forced St- Pierre to stick to a safer course.
Try this: Get into a boxing stance and close your lead eye. Now, have a friend move toward that side. Can’t see them right? Now, imagine this person is trying to punch you. That is what GSP was dealing with in this fight. Throw in the panic of uncertainty and the champion’s performance becomes understandable.
Fortunately, George St-Pierre’s injury is probably just a corneal abrasion which, with care, will heal within a few days. I expect this will make GSP even stronger.