Jake Shields did enough to taste victory at UFC Fight Night 29. | Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
Jake Shields earned a hard-fought split decision victory over Demian Maia in the UFC Fight Night 29 headliner, besting the Brazilian grappling ace in front of a partisan crowd at Jose Correa Gymnasium in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“That was one of the hardest two or three fights of [my career]. It ranks up there with Dan Henderson and [Georges St. Pierre],” Shields said. “He’s a phenom, and he gave me all I could handle. I expected that going in. It was a close fight, and I’m just thankful I got the win.”
While Shields would eventually earn the favor of the judges, it was Maia who took control early in round one by scoring a trip that put Shields on his back. Though the American recovered his vertical base, Maia used the opportunity to hop on his back for a moment before the ADCC bronze medalist shook him off and spent the rest of the round in top position.
Rounds two and three would bring more of the same, as Shields countered Maia’s grappling advances to land in his opponent’s guard, firing short elbows into the face of the former Pan-American BJJ champ. Maia would return the favor in round four, however, firing off left hands and sprawling on Shields’ takedowns attempts to force the Californian to pull guard.
The final frame saw Shields again assume the role of aggressor, driving for multiple takedowns against a stout defense from Maia. After 25 minutes, the judges were split in their verdict, with two awarding Shields the victory on scores of 48-47 and a third dissenting with a 47-48 card.
“In my mind, I had it two rounds apiece,” Shields said. “I didn’t know how the judges had it, but I thought we were even. I was really tired, so I tried to open up the standup more. I thought I edged it out there, but it was close.”
Kim Shocks Silva with Brutal Left
Welterweight standout Dong Hyun Kim extended his winning streak to three fights in the evening’s co-main event, scoring a brutal, second-round knockout of Brazilian prospect Erick Silva.
“Stun Gun” pressed the action early in the welterweight co-headliner, moving forward but failing to land anything of substance. Nevertheless, the wild punches and spinning back fists eventually allowed Kim to close the gap and shove Silva to the canvas, where the Korean secured mount for a time and ended the round standing over his Brazilian opponent.
Silva answered Kim’s aggression in the second frame, as the 29-year-old found his range with several hard shots while fighting through fatigue. The fight then ended in the blink of an eye when both fighters fired haymakers and Kim’s landed a split second sooner. The looping left turned out Silva’s lights and left him defenseless to defend the diving hammer fist that sealed the knockout at 3:01 of round two.
Silva Low Kicks Hammer Hamill
Thiago Silva did not make weight for his light heavyweight showdown with Matt Hamill, but the Blackzilians representative nevertheless dominated their bout en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Though Hamill managed to score a pair of brief takedowns while continually finding success with left hooks to the body, Silva answered with a consistent low kick attack and a second-round knockdown. Both fighters battled fatigue for much of the contest, though Hamill’s problems were exacerbated by Silva’s leg kicks, which brought the “TUF 3” veteran to a crawl in the third round.
Maldonado Earns Split-Decision Verdict
Fabio Maldonado picked up a split decision victory following three rounds of light heavyweight action opposite Joey Beltran. The Brazilian did his best to keep the durable American at distance through much of the bout while working a snappy jab in conjunction with his reliable body punching. Beltran, however, continued to move forward, grinding his foe against the cage and roughing him up with punches and elbows on the inside.
In the end, Maldonado was announced the victor, earning scores of 29-28 from two out of three cageside judges.
“I don’t think I came as close as I wanted to finishing the fight, but I did feel a lot better than in my last fight,” said Maldonado through a translator. “I haven’t fought in Sao Paulo in years. The last time I fought here was in boxing, so I’m very pleased to have this opportunity.”
Palhares up to Old Tricks
Rousimar Palhares scored a slick submission victory in his welterweight debut over veteran grinder Mike Pierce, catching the American in a nasty heel hook early in round one. Pierce charged forward in the bout’s opening moments and scored an easy takedown, but “Toquinho” immediately countered with a leg lock attempt. Though the American managed to escape the hold, the Brazilian quickly turned a takedown attempt of his own into a second heel hook attempt.
This time, the former middleweight found his leverage, torquing the submission and forcing Pierce to wince and give up.
As referee Keith Peterson attempted to halt the contest, Palhares continued to crank the hold, forcing Pierce to tap out multiple times before finally releasing his heel 31 seconds into the opening frame.
Assuncao Denies Team Alpha Male's Dillashaw
Raphael Assuncao eked out a split decision victory over fellow bantamweight contender T.J. Dillashaw, earning a nod from two of the three cageside judges after 15 hard-fought minutes.
Though Dillashaw took charge in the opening frame by climbing onto Assuncao’s back, the World Extreme Cagefighting veteran returned fire in the second stanza in the form of several clean punches to Dillashaw’s mug. The third frame proved to be less clear-cut, however, as both men had their moments in the back-and-forth frame before Assuncao was announced the winner in a split verdict.
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