If you've been impressed with any three or four of Jake Shields' five UFC outings, you're a better person than I am.
Claim all you want about how Shields, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, fought to a somewhat close decision against Martin Kampmann and Yoshihiro Akiyama and try to pretend he's been every bit of the Shields most fans remember if it helps you out.
Also, feel free to mention how there's no shame in losing to Georges St-Pierre or getting knocked out by Jake Ellenberger. To his credit, Shields did officially take a round from St-Pierre when the two fought at UFC 129, and Shields chose to not pull out of his UFC Fight Night 25 bout with Ellenberger even though his father passed on just days before.
Also, he did fight his fight against Herman, controlling him on the ground at will, despite not finishing him after two early attempts at a rear-naked choke.
Herman knew he was taking a huge step up in competition when he accepted the fight with Shields, who was returning to middleweight when he fought Herman at UFC 150 earlier this month. Herman also knew of how Shields planned to dominate the fight, and yet, Shields implemented his game plan to where Herman legitimately had nothing for Shields.
However, now is "put up or shut up" time for the former Strikeforce middleweight champion.
Just as he needed to show how he would handle the top of the welterweight division—a task which he did not appear to live up to—he must now prove he can do more than "get by" as he makes his trek toward the top of a seemingly wiped-out UFC middleweight division.
It will not prove an easy task, as he'll have to contend with the likes of Michael Bisping, Brian Stann, familiar foe Yushin Okami, Hector Lombard, Chris Weidman, Mark Munoz, Alan Belcher and a handful of other rising middleweights who want to establish their claim as contenders to the throne of current kingpin Anderson Silva.
If Shields can do that, he will find himself in a title fight, and he will have the chance to claim championship gold at Silva's expense. The key for him to do this, however, is to live up to the hype he had before he signed with the UFC.
Specifically in order to do this, he needs to show the same killer instinct that kept his Frate Train running for 15 fights straight. We understand that Shields is capable of showing this killer instinct, as that exact instinct earned him eight of those 15 wins he garnered in over a six-year time frame.
If Shields doesn't start reviving that killer instinct sooner than later, time will only tell how quickly he finds himself needing a victory just to stay in the UFC. This will truly prove a sorry situation for the fans of this talented young man who truly does have the potential to become a champion, but unfortunately has yet to show it in his UFC run.