A great way to break up the week, UFC on Fox Sports 1 will hit us with the UFC Fight Night 29 from Brazil. The top of the card is packed with some of the best and brightest of the Brazilian roster, with Demian Maia and Erick Silva moving closer to a title shot with wins in their respective fights.
Let’s check out how this all plays out.
Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields:
Two of the premier grapplers in MMA, this is a fight that, in all reality, will be the worst match on the card. Maia’s BJJ is unparalleled in this division, having grappled Jon Fitch to a stand-still in his last fight, and spelling out a similar fate for Shields with that victory. Shields comes into this off of a highly questionable win over Tyrone Woodley that showed exactly how far the sport has come, while Shields has stayed the same. Lacking in any finishing ability at this level, Shields is left with nothing but positional grappling and will never outwork Maia at his own game. This fight is likely to drag unbearably, as Maia works clinch and takedowns, leading to a laborious decision.
Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim:
Something more befitting a main event, Brazilian lightning bolt Erick Silva will look to blitz Dong Hyun Kim. Silva is on a trajectory to be a world champion, having tasted defeat against Jon Fitch, but showing determination and growth in his next outing to put Jason High away with ease. Kim has been matched incredibly hard throughout his career, and while not a perfect fighter, his tremendous matwork and viper-like striking style make him a tough draw and essentially the gatekeeper of the Welterweight division.
Silva could be in trouble here if Kim can make him fight at his pace, but one of Silva’s best attributes is his unwavering confidence in his attack. If Kim can’t force Silva to respect him with some well-placed strikes and a strong presence in the clinch, Silva will pick him to pieces in hurry. In a perfect world, Kim would do exactly that, but I can’t see Silva letting him get a hold of him, let alone being out landed, and suspect Kim takes a short nap a couple of minutes into this one.
Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill:
If we’ve learned anything in this sport, it’s that the second someone even mentions retirement, you’re not going to get an honest effort out of them ever again. Such is the case with Matt Hamill, as he goes in against Brazilian powerhouse Thiago Silva in his native land. Hamill doesn’t appear to have the drive to fight anymore and with a skill set that hasn’t evolved since his early UFC days, I think this match becomes a good excuse to call it quits again. A few paws and a failed shot lead to a Silva salvo that crumples Hamill against the cage in the first round.
UFC Fight Night 29 Quick Reports:
Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran: Just cut the FOTN check now, as Maldonado and Beltran get into an all-out brawl. Maldonado desperately needs to move down in weight, especially after a career-altering beating at the hands of Glover Teixeira, but faces a reasonable test in Beltran. Coming back from a suspension, Beltran is in dire need of a win here and has the tools to get it done if he can keep his midsection covered and bully his opponent around. It’ll be hooks and elbows all day, with neither man going down and Beltran edging a close decision due to control.
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Pierce: A fight that’s become heated in the media, Pierce will look to dispatch Palhares while keeping his legs intact. This is a pivotal fight for the Brazilian, as Welterweight isn’t a realistic fit for him, even off of steroids, and his will and gas tank aren’t made for the kind of stall and grind that Pierce loves to employ. Palhares hits takedowns on Pierce, but his all-defensive style blows out Palhares limited fuel reserves, leading to a brutal second round KO for Pierce.
Raphael Assuncao vs. TJ Dillashaw: A surprisingly dangerous foe after dropping to Bantamweight, Rafael Assuncao faces Team Alpha Male’s TJ Dillashaw. Everyone has been heaping praise on Duane Ludwig and his work with expanding the team’s muay thai, but for my money, the lessons aren’t taking as well with Dillashaw as with others. Having a love of reckless kick attacks and no mind for defense, Dillashaw is one misstep away from disaster, and I’m not sure Assuncao isn’t the guy to make him pay. As long as Dillashaw keeps both feet on the mat and uses his speed and technique, I think he can snatch a decision win here. Otherwise, he could end up face down after a counter hook sends him sprawling to the mat.