Mixed Martial Arts - Shields edges Maia in grappling battle

This fight between world-class grapplers and former title contenders was everything jiu-jitsu aficionados hoped it would be.

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Mixed Martial Arts - Shields edges Maia in grappling battle
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Demian Maia and Jake Shields square off at the weigh-ins. (Getty)

Both men pressed for takedowns, defended submission attempts and scrambled almost constantly for five straight rounds before Jake Shields was awarded a split-decision victory over the hometown hero Demian Maia.

In round one, Maia immediately shot in for a takedown on Shields against the cage, pulling the “American Jiu Jitsu” fighter down. Shields attempted to walk his back up on the cage and stand up but Maia kept him down and landed with elbows and punches to the head.

Eventually, Shields got to his feet and pressed Maia against the cage, working for his own take down. Maia reversed, got double under hooks in on Shields and took him down again. Shields worked to his feet once more but in doing so, gave up his back.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world champion jumped up on the standing Shields’ back, getting both hooks in and working for a rear naked choke. Shields fended the choke off and shook Maia off to his left side, putting the Brazilian on his own back. From there, Shields worked punches to the head and body of Maia and, as the round ended, he began to land short elbows to his brow.

At the start of the second round, Maia again shot in on Shields only to get reversed and end up on his own back again. Shields once more pressed Maia up against the cage and worked short elbows down through his guard.

Maia had an offensive surge in the third, landing big punches to the chin of Shields before taking him down and once more taking his back. Shields didn’t stick around there long, however, and rolled and spun to reverse positions and end up on top in Maia’s full guard, where he rides out the round.

The first minute of the fourth round saw Shields work for a takedown against the fence. Maia got double under hooks and reversed positions against the cage before Shields reversed back. From there, Shields landed a hard knee to the body of Maia and the referee separated them.

Early in the fifth and final round, Shields shot for a single leg takedown next, Maia defended and put Shields on his own back in the full guard. While Maia punched the downed Shields, the referee once more separated the two active fighters and stood them up.

From there, Maia pushed hard towards the final horn, throwing and landing multiple punches to the face of Shields. Shields answered back and the fight ends with both men swinging away.

Two judges scored the fight for Shields, 48-47, while one scored it the same for Maia. After the scores were announced, Shields said that this fight was one of the top two or three toughest of his career, along with his title bouts against Georges St. Pierre and Dan Henderson.

The win is Shields’ third straight and snaps a three fight win streak for Maia.

Don Hyun Kim knocks Erick Silva out in two

Silva set a frentic pace in the first but found himself defending most of the round as Kim established side and full mount positions. In the second round, Silva came out even aggressively and rocked “Stun Gun” with punches and elbows, backing the Korean against the cage.

Kim regained his composure after the first minute in the clinch. Silva looked fatigued after his first burst but managed to land his right jab and a big knee to the body of Kim. Silva landed with a wild right hand that hit Kim right on the chin. A hard knee to the body and an attempted take down followed from Silva.

The fight came to a sudden end when both welterweights threw left hooks at the same time. Kim threw his hook while slipping his head slightly to the right and as a result, Silva’s hook missed while Kim’s landed flush, knocking out the Brazilian on contact.

Thiago Silva wins lopsided decision over Matt Hamill

The returning Matt Hamill proved tough, as always, but didn't look great in losing a one-sided decision to Thiago Silva. Silva came in to the fight having failed to make weight on Tuesday and looking a good twenty pounds heavier than Hamill and with more fat on his own frame than we’d ever seen before.

Hamill led off the first round with a quick takedown but Silva got up just as fast. Later in the round, Silva landed a big right hand that made Hamill stumble. Silva followed up with heavy leg kicks that would prove to be his most consistent weapon on Hamill.

Both men came out aggressive in the second round, missing with big elbow strikes. It didn’t take long for Silva to connect with another right hand to the head of Hamill. This time, the wrestler was floored by the punch and looked to be on his way out.

Hamill managed to survive the onslaught and got back to his feet and scored another takedown. Silva got back to his feet but Hamill kept up the pressure and kept Silva’s back against the cage before ending the round with another take down.

Silva nearly finished Hamill several times in the third round with unchecked leg kicks that had “The Hammer” leaning over at times with his hands at his waist. Silva followed up with repeated knees to the head of Hamill, who staggered but managed to stay on his feet. The referee looked to be close to stopping the fight right before the final horn brought a close to the bout.

Scores were 30-27 (twice) and 29-27 for Thiago Silva. Hamill may be forced to revisit retirement after the loss. Silva may have needed the win to avoid getting cut after frequent losses and drug suspensions over the past few years.

Fabio Maldonado wins close decision over Joey Beltran

Beltran used excellent head positioning, knees, elbows and body punches from inside the clinch to win the first round. Beltran also managed to score a takedown near the end of the round.

Maldonado came out in the second round throwing and scoring with his lead left jab. Beltran managed to close the distance back up momentarily and work an effective clinch before Maldonado pushed him backwards with a couple uppercuts that landed to the head.

Maldonado then, inexplicably, backed himself against the cage as he did in the first and goaded Beltran to come back at him. Beltran obliged him and proceeded to land a hard left knee to the body and a right elbow to the jaw of the Brazilian. The elbow dislodged Maldonado’s mouth guard and after the fight was restarted with it back in his mouth, the boxer began to find his range with flowing punches to Beltran’s head and body. Beltran closed the round fighting back hard and landing several big shots to a retreating Maldonado.

Maldonado landed a consistent stream of pitter patter punches, standing straight up and with his chin out, but Beltran landed all of the round’s power shots and bloodied up the Brazilian’s mouth near the end of the round. With under a minute left, Beltran took Maldonado down with a front head lock and then proceeded to land a half dozen knees to the body to end the round and apparently steal the round and the fight.

Ultimately, the judges saw it in favor of Maldonado in the form of a split decision win (29-28 on two cards). In his post fight interview Maldonado was not shocked that he won the fight despite being bloodied and bruised, but instead that any of the judges could have seen it for his opponent.

Rousimar Palhares submits Mike Pierce

Rousimar Palhares made a successful welterweight debut and snapped a two fight losing streak in less than a minute with a heel hook submission win over Mike Pierce. Pierce pushed Palhares back from the start and took the jiu-jitsu specialist down early but the Brazilian immediately positioned himself for a heel hook.

Pierce defended the first attempt but after Palhares got to his feet and could not finish his own single leg takedown attempt, he dropped to his back and wrapped his legs around Pierce’s own left leg and sunk in the heel hook. Before Pierce could even fall to the ground, he tapped out to the painful ligament hold.

The referee stepped in to stop the fight but, as he has done and been fined for doing before, Palhares refused to let go of the lock at the referee’s direction. “Toquinho” dedicated the fight to his recently deceased cousin and cried during his post fight interview.

If the athletic commission and UFC are consistent, they will penalize Palhares in some way for blatantly holding onto the submission well after the referee moved in to stop the bout.

Raphael Assuncao decisions T.J Dillashaw

Raphael Assuncao and T.J. Dillashaw opened up UFC Fight Night’s main card with an exciting and hard-fought bantamweight battle. Dillashaw won the first round on the strength of a take down and achieving back control and threatening with a rear naked choke for much of the period. For his part, Assuncao landed the bigger power shots, including two big left hooks, and was able to defend the choke and get back to his feet each time he was taken down.

Assuncao came back and won the second round with power punches and kicks early on and good front choke attempts on Dillashaw. Dillashaw was able to score a takedown but found himself in trouble on the ground once he did. At the close of the second, Dillashaw was bleeding badly from his nose.

The third round looked to be about even in terms of strikes landed, with both men only throwing one at a time for the most part. When he threw it, Assuncao was able to land his lead jab. Dillashaw continually walked Assuncao down and backwards but failed to capitalize with strikes or take downs.

Ultimately, two judges saw the fight for Assuncao, two rounds to one. The win is the Brazilian’s fifth straight and he hopes to be closing in on a title shot.

“I consider this to be a [title eliminator] semi-final but there’s another semi-final in Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald. I respect the man who I consider the real champion, Renan Barao as well as Dominick Cruz,” Assuncao said.

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