UFC Fight Night 29 Results: Matches to Make for the Entire Fight Card
Jake Shields has returned to title contention, albeit in unconvincing fashion.
At UFC Fight Night 29, Shields earned a split-decision win over Demian Maia with reversals and by maintaining top position. With Maia being ranked No. 4 in the welterweight division prior to his loss to the non-ranked Shields, the result of Wednesday's main event will shake up the 170-pound ladder.
In more surprising welterweight action, former middleweight Rousimar Palhares submitted Mike Pierce, and Dong Hyun Kim stunned Erick Silva at UFC Fight Night 29.
With another UFC event in the books, here are the fights that should be next for Shields, Maia and the rest of the UFC Fight Night 29 competitors.
Garett Whiteley vs. Quinn Mulhern
Meeting fellow UFC newcomer Alan Patrick in the Brazilian's home country, Garett Whiteley was forced into a tough environment in his UFC debut.
Although he appeared to keep his calm inside the Octagon, he had trouble dealing with Patrick's striking. Before he could make it out of his first UFC round, Whiteley found himself covering up on the ground.
He will get another chance to prove himself in the world's top MMA promotion, but he'll need to make it count. A bout with Quinn Mulhern, another lightweight whose UFC career could be in jeopardy, is a possibility.
Alan Patrick vs. James Vick
Alan Patrick got the Brazilian crowd going early at UFC Fight Night 29.
In the opening round of his Octagon debut against Garett Whiteley, Patrick scored his first UFC victory with strikes. At 30 years old, he is more seasoned than most UFC prospects, but his capoeira makes him an exciting addition to the lightweight class.
As he looks to move up the 155-pound ranks, he will now likely meet another fighter coming off his first UFC win. James Vick seems like a logical adversary.
Chris Cariaso vs. Chico Camus
With his first win in 15 months, Chris Cariaso may have saved his UFC career at UFC Fight Night 29.
After being taken down and outstruck in the first round, he took advantage of a fading opponent on Wednesday. The American battered Iliarde Santos throughout the second round and finished the Brazilian in the final minute of the stanza.
Having lost his first three fights inside the Octagon, Santos will likely be released from the UFC roster. Cariaso, on the other hand, could be looking at a matchup with a fellow former bantamweight in Chico Camus, who expressed interest in a move to 125 pounds following his recent win over Kyung Ho Kang.
Ildemar Alcantara vs. Kenny Robertson
After winning his first two UFC fights, Ildemar Alcantara tasted defeat for the first time inside the Octagon on Wednesday.
While he started with three takedowns in the first two rounds of his bout against Igor Araujo, "Marajo" faded badly. Having begun his UFC career in the light heavyweight division, Alcantara might have lost some conditioning when he cut to 170 pounds.
Whatever the reason for his poor performance at UFC Fight Night 29, his next fight is likely to come against an opponent also coming off a loss. Kenny Robertson is a good option.
Igor Araujo vs. Yan Cabral
Igor Araujo and Yan Cabral each picked up wins in their UFC debuts by using jiu-jitsu to gain edges on the scorecards.
Araujo outlasted fellow Brazilian Ildemar Alcantara, while Cabral dominated David Mitchell on the canvas from start to finish. Now, the UFC newcomers could meet each other in their sophomore showings inside the Octagon.
As a result of his victory at UFC Fight Night 29, Cabral likely bounced Mitchell from the world's top MMA promotion, with the American having lost four of his first five UFC bouts.
TJ Dillashaw vs. Mike Easton
TJ Dillashaw saw a four-fight winning streak come to an end in controversial fashion on Wednesday.
Although he scored two takedowns on Top 5 bantamweight Raphael Assuncao, Dillashaw was outlanded in the striking department. In a razor-thin decision, Dillashaw was defeated by Assuncao despite most of the MMA media seeing the matchup in the Team Alpha Male fighters' favor.
Since both fighters are now coming off split-decision losses, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby should re-book Dillashaw with Mike Easton. The Top 10 135-pounders were scheduled to meet at UFC on Fox 5, but a Dillashaw injury scrapped that bout.
Raphael Assuncao vs. Loser of Dominick Cruz vs. Renan Barao
Raphael Assuncao is in a tough spot despite picking up one of the biggest wins of his MMA career on Wednesday.
While he wasn't dominant by any means at UFC Fight Night 29, he did enough to keep his winning streak going. With a narrow decision win in his home country of Brazil, Assuncao solidified himself as one of the top contenders in the 135-pound division.
However, he is limited on opponents he could face next.
The only bantamweight fighters ranked above him are essentially locked into other matchups already. Urijah Faber and Michael McDonald will meet in December, with the winner likely earning a title shot against the winner of an expected title-merging bout between Dominick Cruz and interim champion Renan Barao.
If the fight between Cruz and Barao takes place in early 2014, Assuncao could meet the loser to give him a chance to earn a spot in a championship bout.
Joey Beltran vs. Ilir Latifi
Although he's winless in his past four official UFC bouts, Joey Beltran may have done enough to earn one last shot to prove himself inside the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 29.
Beltran was defeated by Fabio Maldonado via decision on Wednesday. However, MMA media almost unanimously saw the matchup in Beltran's favor, suggesting Maldonado may have been aided by some home cooking.
If he does return to the Octagon, Beltran will likely find himself in a loser-leaves-town matchup. A bout with Ilir Latifi would fit that bill.
Fabio Maldonado vs. Francimar Barroso
It took a close call on the scorecards, but Fabio Maldonado has now won consecutive fights for the first time in his UFC career.
He scrapped with Joey Beltran for three rounds but found himself with his back to the cage throughout the contest. Nonetheless, judges saw the bout in his favor, awarding him a split-decision victory.
While Maldonado may have back-to-back wins, it's hard to deny he's near the bottom of the light heavyweight ladder. For that reason, there's a good chance he'll meet a low-ranked opponent like Francimar Barroso in his next outing.
Matt Hamill vs. Gian Villante
Matt Hamill has had an inspiring MMA career, but it's nearing an end following his latest loss.
The Ultimate Fighter veteran toughed it out for three rounds on Wednesday, but he took a beating from Thiago Silva. In front of his home crowd, Silva chopped Hamill's legs with kicks and rocked the American with punches.
Although he's lost three of his past four fights, it's not out of the question that Hamill might get one more fight inside the Octagon. If he does, Hamill should meet Strikeforce veteran Gian Villante.
Thiago Silva vs. Winner of Ryan Jimmo vs. Jimi Manuwa
Thiago Silva disappointed by missing weight on Tuesday, but he responded with a victory over Matt Hamill at UFC Fight Night 29.
A loss to Hamill could have led the UFC to part ways with Silva, who has had multiple drug test failures in addition to missing weight prior to Wednesday's matchup. Instead, he slowed Hamill with leg kicks and battered his opponent en route to a decision win.
Because he failed to make weight, UFC matchmakers aren't likely to reward Silva with a Top 10 light heavyweight in his next fight. A bout with a striker like Jimi Manuwa would be interesting, though, should the Englishman beat Ryan Jimmo at UFC Fight Night 30.
Erick Silva vs. Mike Pierce
Pegged as a future contender in the welterweight division since he joined the UFC roster, Erick Silva suffered another setback on Wednesday. In a wild fight with Dong Hyun Kim, Silva got caught with a left hand and suffered the first knockout loss of his career.
Mike Pierce also hit a roadblock in his title contention hopes at UFC Fight Night 29. Despite facing a feared submission specialist in Rousimar Palhares, Pierce initiated the grappling and ended up getting caught in the Brazilian's heel hook.
Silva has had a history of exciting fights with wrestlers, so a bout with Pierce would likely be entertaining and get one of these talented fighters back in the win column.
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Tarec Saffiedine
Without a finish since May 2008, Dong Hyun Kim and his ability to stop opponents had come into question. However, he shocked Erick Silva with a second-round knockout at UFC Fight Night 29, taking a step toward title contention in doing so.
While Rousimar Palhares would have been a nice opponent for Kim, he's been released from the UFC as a result of holding onto a heel hook for too long against Mike Pierce on Wednesday.
Instead, Kim can face former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine, who stock has been slipping as a result of his inactivity. If Kim can beat Saffiedine, he'll be ready for one of the top contenders in the welterweight class.
Demian Maia vs. Winner of Tyron Woodley vs. Josh Koscheck
At UFC Fight Night 29, Demian Maia suffered his first loss in the welterweight division.
Following a rapid ascent into title contention, Maia was bested by Jake Shields in a decision on Wednesday. Despite his world-class grappling ability, he couldn't make enough happen under the stifling top control of Shields.
While his bout with Shields wasn't outstanding, Maia can be fun to watch against wrestlers. A matchup with a more rounded grappler, like the winner of a UFC 167 fight between Tyron Woodley and Jake Shields, could be interesting.
A scheduled UFC 163 fight with Koscheck fell through due to injury, while Woodley is coming off a decision loss to Shields.
Jake Shields vs. Winner of Nate Marquardt vs. Hector Lombard
Jake Shields returned to title contention on Wednesday, but don't expect him to meet another Top Five welterweight in his next outing.
While he was an underdog heading into UFC Fight Night 29, he was able to maintain the top position long enough to beat Maia on the scorecards. It was an impressive accomplishment on some level, but Shields will need to finish some fights to put himself in the running for another title shot, as he's already been beaten by champion Georges St-Pierre.
It might not initially seem like a step in the right direction after beating Maia, but Shields should now meet the winner of an upcoming fight between Nate Marquardt and Hector Lombard. Marquardt holds knockout wins over Maia and Tyron Woodley, Shields' past two opponents, while Lombard would be considered an instant 170-pound contender should he beat Marquardt impressively at UFC 166.