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UFC Fight Night 29: ‘Shields vs. Maia’ Event Preview



via  Seán Sheehan for hov-mma

UFC Fight Night 29 goes down this Wednesday at the Ginásio José Corrêa in Barueri, Brazil. One could be forgiven for thinking this is just another Wednesday fight night card in Brazil (which we need to start getting used to) full of home town fighters, with not too much on the line. In actual fact this is one of the most stacked midweek cards in recent history with quality throughout.

Headlining is the intriguing welterweight bout between former UFC title contenders, Damian Maia and Jake Shields. Victorious in three bouts since dropping to 170 lbs, Maia is in the midst of a new lease of life in his career following a 3-3 run at middleweight. The Brazilian is currently ranked at #4 in the official UFC rankings and is climbing quickly. Shields, similarly, is unbeaten in three fights (one of which is a no-contest due to a failed drugs test in a fight which Shields had originally won) since crushing defeats to champion Georges St-Pierre and Jake Ellenberger and is looking for a win here to push himself back into the title talk.

In many ways these two are carbon copies of each other. Both men have elite jiu-jitsu bases with 19 submission wins between them in their careers and no submission losses. Both men have dominant wrestling games and have been known to grind out hard-fought decision victories. If the ground game plays out evenly the striking game is unlikely to see too much deviation in advantage either. This fight has all the makings of a close five-rounder. The hope is that it hits the ground and we get a battle for the ages, if it does, this should be a good one.

The co-main event is also a welterweight bout and a high quality encounter between rising star Erick Silva and Korean Dong Hyun ‘Stun Gun’ Kim. Silva is one of the promotions top prospects and but for setbacks in tough match-ups against Jon Fitch and Carlo Prater (in a controversial disqualification) the Brazilian would undoubtedly be inside of the divisions top ten. This is another big test for the Wallid Ismail protegé against a fighter whose only career losses have come against Carlos Condit and Damian Maia.

Kim, as a strong wrestler, will be looking at Silva’s loss to Jon Fitch as the blueprint to defeat the former jungle fight champion. In that fight Fitch was able to control Silva for long periods in the clinch and shut down the Brazilians submission game when it did hit the floor. ‘Stun Gun’ needs to do the same. For Silva he will look to come out quickly from the traps as he always does and look for the finish early. This is a real litmus test for Silva and will tell whether he is within the elite at 170 lbs or not.

Also featured are a pair of light-heavyweight scraps as Matt Hamill takes on Thiago Silva and Joey Beltran battles Fabio Maldanado. In both cases the Brazilian is, correctly, a heavy favourite. Maldanado, the former professional boxer, is likely to put the final nail in Beltran’s UFC career whereas peeing in a cup may be Silva’s toughest test (following after a string of past misdemeanours) as Hamill recently split from his long-time coach, Duff Homes, who is quoted as saying “There is a guy who lives inside of Matt Hamill that can wipe the floor with Thiago Silva but I’m not sure he’s still around and I’m not sure he’s going to come back next week (on fight night).”

Another amazing welterweight fight is also set for Wednesday night as 170 lb. debutant Rousimar Palhares takes on Mike Pierce who will be looking to secure his fifth win in a row. Palhares is a jiu-jitsu specialist and against a superb wrestler like Pierce he may have chances to show his quality on the mat. Should this one stay on the feet Pierce has thunder in his hands as he showed in recent defeats of David Mitchell and Aaron Simpson. Palhares, though, will be looking to jump on a leg early and often. If Pierce can stop that, the fight is his for the taking – although that can often be easier said than done.

Rounding out the main card is the biggest fight to date for team alpha-male bantamweight starlet T.J. Dillashaw who takes on the divisions #5 ranked Rafael Assuncao with both men riding four-fight win streaks inside the UFC. Somewhat unusually for the bantamweights, this is a meeting of real finishers with only 9 decisions in 35 fights between them. Assuncao is a submission artist and Dillashaw is likely to want to keep this one standing to showcase his ever improving striking which has developed even further under new coach Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. Expect fireworks in this ‘fight of the night’ candidate.

In the prelims the night 4th and 5th welterweight fights take place between Iidemar Alcantara and Igor Araujo while Yan Cabral faces David Mitchell. Flyweight #8 Chris Cariaso takes on the dangerous Iliarde Santos in the 2nd fight of the night following the opener between Allen Patrick and Garreth Whiteley.

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