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UFC Fight Night 29 Results: Jake Shields Grinds Out Split Decision Victory Over Demian Maia

Posted on by Ryan McKinnell

Jake ShieldsWhen welterweight’s Jake Shields and Demian Maia were announced as the headliners of UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri, Brazil, most fans and pundits expected a drawn out 25-minute decision, laden with world-class jiu-jitsu.

Well, luckily for fans of good old-fashioned ground battles, the main event emanating from the Ginasio Poliesportivo Jose Correa did not disappoint.

The opening frame saw a brief feeling out process between the American jiu-jitsu practitioner and his Brazilian counterpart.   Soon after, Maia lunged forward for the first takedown attempt with a forceful single-leg shot.  After roughly a minute of jostling, Maia earned a trip takedown and began his attempt at controlling the Cesar Gracie black belt.  Shortly after the initial takedown, a scramble ensued.  As the fighters came to their feet, Maia leaped onto Shields’ back and was looking for a rear-naked choke.  Shields, in a moment of sheer poise, swung the Brazilian off his back and landed into half guard.

Now with Maia on the mat, Shields proceeded to spend the final two minutes of the first round drilling his opponent with short elbows and peppering ground and pound.  As the final seconds ticked away, Shields was landing scoring elbows and seemingly won the very close first five minutes.

Early into the second round, Maia shot another single-leg takedown, and then turned it into a high-crotch attempt.  However, Shields used Maia’s momentum, turned into him, and drug him to the canvas just 45-seconds into the frame.  The majority of the second played out much like the first, with Shields controlling his base with textbook precision, all the while landing short elbows and methodical groundwork.

As the third round began, the scorecards were close, but this writer had the action two rounds to none in favor of the American.

Round three saw both Shields and Maia’s best moments of the fight.

Maia began the round with accurate punches and a stiff left hook that connected to Shields’ head. Shields then shot for a takedown after being touched, and Maia whipped him into the cage, using underhooks to clinch with him against the Octagon fence.  Continuing his momentum with just over three minutes left, Maia unleashed a flurry while the fighters separated from the cage. Feeling the pressure, Shields shot for a takedown, and Maia, in a moment of sheer BJJ wizardry, jumped onto Shields’ back looking for a submission.

This is when Shields took control.  With Maia on his back, Shields shrugged him off with a slick reversal and spent the next two and a half minutes peppering the Brazilian with short elbows. It was surely a beautiful sight for ground-fighting enthusiasts.

With rounds 1-3 arguably going to Shields, Maia needed rounds four and five to be competitive.  And by most accounts, the Brazilian won those much-needed rounds.

As Shields’ takedown attempts and control waned in the championship rounds, Maia took control.  Both rounds saw Maia control Shields with a textbook sprawl and stiff offense on the feet.

When Shields made an attempt to bring it to the ground, he looked lethargic and at times uninspired.  He was in a dogfight, and Maia was gaining momentum.  There was little question that Maia won the final two rounds, albeit visually lackluster at points.  In fact, at one point in the fourth round, referee Marc Goddard stood Maia up from Shields’ guard due to lack of action.

Still, Maia most likely won those final rounds, but they certainly weren’t “career rounds” for either combatant.

When the scorecards were read, most expected a split decision.  Normally, such a close fight would be seen as an advantage for the hometown fighter.  And seeing as Maia was a native Brazilian, most believed the decision would fall to his favor.

However, in a somewhat surprising announcement, Shields was awarded the split-decision nod with the scores 48-47, 47-48, and 48-47.

Following the fight, a swollen and exhausted Shields took to the microphone to praise the man who gave him one of his toughest fights in his career.

“That was one of my hardest one or two fights of my career,” said the 34-year-old. “That ranks right up there with GSP or Dan Henderson; that guy is a phenom. I expected that going in. He gave me all I could handle and I’m just thankful I got the win tonight.”

For Shields, he commented that it was actually the fifth round that he thought won him the fight.  However, to be fair to Shields, he did just go through a 25-minute fistfight.

“In the fifth round, they might have had it two rounds apiece,” he said. “You never know how the judges are going to have it. But I thought it was even, and I was tired, but I thought I edged it out there. It was really close.”

This was Shields’ third split-decision win in only four UFC victories, and it arguably was his most hard-fought and well-earned of the bunch.  With three wins in a row after suffering a brutal first-round knockout at the hands of Jake Ellenberger in September 2011, Shields is finally poised to make a return run at the welterweight championship currently held by Georges St-Pierre, or at least put him in top contention with the heavy players in the 170-pound division.

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  • fsunoles10

    did i not call it right here on this site when they announced the fight? i ended up missing this particular fight cuz for some reason i started getting drunk after work and by the time this fight rolled around i was pretty much in jam mode and forgot about it but im glad shields won, ive always respected his skill after what he did to mayhem and by the time he fought hendo i was already a fan but i was impressed by that win as well. didnt get to catch that kim fight either so im looking forward to brushing back up on this card.

  • Manuel Lopez

    Nice breakdown and yea the casual fans don’t like Shields style. But the studied fans know that what he does is not easy. Put it this way… ASilva refused to go to the ground with Maia. And Maia out wrestled Fitch. That’s how good Shields is. And 5 rnds people.

  • Nord

    @Manuel Lopez
    Maia is a monster on the ground. I agree that it is VERY hard to grapple Maia and even to survive on ground with him. However surviving is not objective of MMA; it is the finish. All the grappling intricacies like takedowns, throws, clinching, positioning, controlling, sweeps/reversals in MMA context should ideally lead to sub ko/tko.
    Good example of highest level grappler(World and ADCC champ ) who constantly tries to find a way to finish is Jacare. He could easily control most of his opponents right to decision victory, yet he uses his grappling to go for the finish.
    Of course sometimes fighters do their best to get finish, but things just doesn’t work. Then judges have to decide the winner.
    I didn’t see this fight so I can’t really comment on how Shields or Maia fought this time, but according to Shield’s record and previous fights I have watched, he couldn’t or didn’t go for finish in more then half of his fights.
    So question really isn’t about ”casual vs studied” fans’ like or dislike of his style. Shield has a tendency to go for point victories that originally was invented in MMA only as a last resort for deciding winner to accommodate TV airtime constraints. There are world class grapplers who exhibit same level of grappling intricacies as Shield AND go for finishes. They are appreciated by both ”casual and studied” fans.

    • Manuel Lopez

      It wasn’t a ‘points’ victory. It was Maia who went for the take down in the first round and Jake reversed and ended on top. I suggest you watch the fight and judge for yourself.

      • Nord

        I will try to find time to watch the fight soon. So again, my comment wasn’t regarding this fight. Also I respect both athletes for their skills and ability to compete at the highest level. Both are grappling masters.
        However, what do you mean it wasn’t point victory? There was no finish. Article above states that fight went to a close split decision.