Appropriately, grappling will take center stage in the main event of UFC Fight Night 29 in Barueri, Brazil on Wednesday. The country’s grappling techniques and prowess have shaped the sport of MMA as much as any other trait or discipline.
One of Brazil’s finest grapplers, Demian Maia (18-4) will put his skills on display against another elite mat warrior in Jake Shields (28-6-1). Between them, Maia and Shields have a combined 19 wins by submission in their careers.
Does that mean we’re destined to see someone tap out? Will we see two experts in submissions elect to settle things with their fists, or will they battle for positioning for five rounds while the fight is decided on the scorecards.
I have my theories, but here’s how you can watch the main event and entire card for yourself.
Prepare to Fall Asleep
I respect Maia and Shields as good fighters and excellent submissions artists, but sometimes two good fighters don’t produce an exciting fight. This is probably going to be one of those bouts. Both men are very calculated and excellent in executing their game plans.
The problem is, both generally have the same approach. The vast majority of the wins they have captured in their careers have come by submission, and neither man has ever been submitted in their MMA careers.
This is going to be a chess match where neither man blinks enough to give his opponent an edge. For a grappling connoisseur, this will be heavenly. However, for fans that long to see a mix of striking and grappling, you’re likely to feel a little sleepy by the beginning of the third round.
I’ll take Shields as the winner because he’s a little stronger physically, and when he’s not actively pursuing the submission, he’s usually better at maintaining top position. Posture will go a long way in this fight as neither man is likely to take a ton of punishment from strikes.
The winner is likely to put himself in good position to challenge for the welterweight title in the future. That fight should be more entertaining than this one will be. Check out this simulation of the fight from the video game UFC Undisputed 3.
Prepare to Wake Up
It is too bad the Maia-Shields fight couldn’t come after the Erick Silva-Dong Hyun Kim bout. The latter should feature better action. Silva is definitely a solid submission artist having finished 60 percent of his opponents that way, but his opponent has good ground defense and likes to thump. Per UFC.com, he has defended 80.65 percent of the takedowns attempted against him.
The man they call the “Stun Gun” will at least make sure this fight is entertaining. Silva is my pick to win by submission, but he’ll have to avoid the South Korean’s long reach to get inside.
Ultimately, his explosion into his takedown attempts will wear Kim down and lead to victory.
Prepare to See Punches in Bunches
Neither Thiago Silva nor Matt Hamill would have a prayer in the Octagon against Jon “Bones” Jones, but their matchup has explosive possibilities. Hamill actually owns the only win over Jones, but it came when Bones was disqualified for pummeling him with a downward elbow.
Aside from that “win,” Hamill stopped Mark Munoz with a vicious head kick in 2009 and has won decisions over Keith Jardine, Tito Ortiz and Roger Hollett.
He’s a tough, strong veteran who has been around the sport since 2005. He's far from a pushover.
Silva has knocked out 87 percent of the fighters he’s faced, including a first-round stoppage of Rafael Cavalcante on UFC on Fuel TV 10 in June. He’s faced some of the best fighters in the world in his weight class and owns a TKO win over Jardine from 2009.
The man can flat-out punch, and he’ll be hyped to perform well in front of his home country. This could be a case of the first man to land a flush strike wins. Silva has slightly longer arms, and he’s a little smoother than Hamill.
This gives him the edge in what could be the Fight of the Night and/or KO of the Night.
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