UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields 10/9/13 Barueri, BR Ginasio Jose Correa
Raphael Assunçao vs. T.J. Dillashaw 3R 5:00. A very competitive match where both fighters had their moments and did a lot of cosmetic damage including Assuncao getting a big mouse under his left eye early and both bleeding, Dillashaw from the nose and under the right eye. They kept a high pace throughout and the crowd was really into it, going nuts anytime the Brazilian did anything that could be construed as positive. The defense was really ahead of the offense though, so it was more intense because they were trying hard than good because much of what they were trying was actually successful. T.J. came close to winning early when he took Assuncao down, snuck around the back, and had a standing rear naked choke that he continued on the ground, but Assuncao kept his chin tucked well enough to outlast him. Assuncao did a good job of catching Dillashaw's kicks and countering with a strike. He stuffed a takedown and rolled into an arm-in guillotine. Dillashaw won round 1, Assuncao round 2, and round 3 was a toss up with both trying to steal the fight with late takedowns but neither getting the job done. I'm sure the fact it was in Brazil went a long way toward Assuncao getting the decision, but when all either can get done in the last round is Dillashaw landing 14 strikes and Assuncao landing 11, neither have a legitimate gripe with whatever the judges decide. Above average match.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Pierce R1 0:31. Pierce didn't seem to know who he was fighting. He couldn't wait to get the fight to the ground, narrowly escaping the first heel hook attempt. Palhares then went for a single leg, and dropped into a heel hook for the win. Winning this quickly in the same old fashion was highly impressive in its own right, and the fact that Palhares had the only submission of the night should have cinched him Submission of the Night, but he once again displayed an embarrassing lack of sportsmanship in holding onto the lock after his opponent had tapped and tapped and tapped some more in a seeming attempt to seriously injure him, which did happen as Pierce is now on a 6 month medical suspension. UFC not only refused to give Rousimar the $50,000 bonus the honor would have earned him citing unsportsmanlike conduct, but the Brazilian commission suspended him for 120 days and Dana White decided UFC is no longer in the Palhares business.
Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran 3R. I expected a lot more from this fight, and Maldonado in particular. Beltran is kind of the opposite of GSP, he had no real skill or stamina but that normally makes his fights entertaining slugfests, even if it's just him getting pulverized but refusing to give up. Maldonado, I thought, was actually pretty good, but was just content to hang back and do nothing until his perpetually underconditioned opponent predictably wore out. Maldonado, on paper, might be the best boxer in the UFC, but he showed no footwork here, and was so afraid of getting taken down he refused to exploit his huge advantage in distance striking until Beltran was too tired to be any sort of a takedown threat. Maldonado almost cost himself the fight because he was content to just lean against the cage for almost 2 whole rounds while Beltran ground himself into exhaustion. Maldonado did punch the body at every opportunity to advance the deconditioning process, but fighting flat footed and totally without aggression or intent at octagon control was a risky proposition that may not have paid off had the fight not been in Brazil. The second round was a lot better than the first, but Maldonado didn't really turn it on until the final minute when he actually began to exert his will and keep Beltran away with his jab. You wondered why he didn't just do this all fight because it was technique rather than conditioning that allowed him to beat Beltran to the punch every time. Maldonado was landing at will, but Beltran had a takedown late in round 3 and got a few ground strikes in to try to steal it. You aren't going to beat a boxer in their home country when you allow them to land 61% of their punches in the final round though. Maldonado won a split decision. Average match.
Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill 3R. Silva looked like he hadn't been to see Cousin Yuri in a long long time, and had been eating his way through training camp, coming in at a very soft 208, which cost him 25% of his purse. Sadly, Hamill's conditioning made Thiago seem like Nick Diaz, as Hamill did his best to channel hunched over sucking wind Mark Coleman in the 3rd. Hamill was so beyond dead tired that he almost seemed indifferent. I mean, you want a fighter who stays in the moment and doesn't get down on themselves, but it seemed more that Hamill was just too blown up to even have the energy to be disappointed that his takedowns were all failing. All that being said, this did start off as a good kickboxing match, and I felt the quality of this show was so low that it might have been the 2nd best match even though the third round was embarrassing. Hamill, who hasn't fought in over a year since coming out of retirement to defeat Roger Hollett at UFC 152 9/22/12, has suddenly developed some of the best body punching in the sport. He was really digging the liver punch in, usually after landing a couple solid shots to the head. There wasn't much defense in this fight, particularly from Hamill, who never bothered to check any of Silva's multitude of low kicks. Hamill wasn't going hard for the takedown early when he had his legs, and by the end of round 1, Silva had totally jacked them up with one kick after another, so he wasn't as successful as he should have been, and was thus forced to continue to stand toe-to-toe and bang. Hamill was 1/2 in takedowns in round 1 and 2/5 in round 2, though he was never able to keep Silva down for any length of time to do any damage with ground and pound or even just catch his breathe. By round 3, Hamill's conditioning was so depleted he was 0/7. In round 2, Silva hurt Hamill with a right hook followed by an overhand right and then dropped him with a right uppercut. Hamill was on wobbly legs for the rest of the round, and Silva probably could have finished Hamill here if he had any energy, but let him off the hook because he was too tired, allowing Hamill to get a takedown. I enjoyed the first two rounds of banging so I'm willing to somewhat overlook what happened in the third, giving them the benefit of the doubt that the leg kicks and body shots were most of what left them so ridiculously depleted in the third as it was a brutal battle. Hamill could hardly keep his hands above his waist in the final round, much less punch with them. Silva looked bad physically, but seeing how pathetic Hamill looked gave him the will to gut out both his conditioning deficiency and his broken hand, once again throwing over 70 shots, but now raising his percentage from 36% in round 1 to 62%. Hamill looked so gassed he could have given in to a little breeze, but somehow he did manage to stay on his feet despite a lot of wobbling and hunching. Silva won a unanimous decision. Above average match.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Erick Silva R2 3:01. Kim didn't start slow today; he pushed the pace then slowed after 2 minutes! Kim's standing hugs kept the pace to a crawl, and had both men gassed less than halfway through the fight. The overall lack of stamina was getting very frustrating, especially since it wasn't one of those high altitude equals low quality endeavors you knew would be rough going in. Kim made a nice move taking Silva's back, rolling him down, and mounting, but even then he mainly just used the ground to get his wind back. Silva was dominated in round 1, but came out fast in round 2 with big right hands and a flying knee. He somehow dropped Kim with a short right hook that actually appeared to miss. Kim was really sucking wind after Silva landed a good right hook and uppercut. Silva was attacking all round, but suddenly both threw lefts at the same time, with Kim stepping right so he avoided Silva's and caught him flush for the 1 punch KO. Average match.
Jake Shields vs. Demian Maia 5R. These are very high level fighters, but they have the same strengths of takedowns and BJJ, so they just negated each other. They could get each other down, but even though they are two of the best submission offense fighters in MMA, their submission defense was just too damn good to the point there wasn't a submission attempt the whole 25 minutes. They worked really hard and technically, these guys are really good, but there was only the occasional highlight. My favorite moment was when Maia had Shields back and was trying to get the 2nd hook in, but Shields rolled and spun to take the top. Maia landed 1 more strike and had 3 takedowns to 1, so you figured that, especially being in his home country, he'd win the decision, but of course trying to make any sense of anything the judges do is an exercise in futility. It was just a very close but dull fight, so there's not much to say beyond Maia's 2 takedowns to none should have got him the 1st, his 36 strikes to 6 should have gotten him the 4th, and he could have won either or both round 5 where he had a 16-10 strike advantage and landed the better shots despite Shields being the aggressor or round 3 where Shields had a 28-22 strike advantage but Maia had a takedown. Shields won a split decision. Below average match.