In the world of mixed martial arts, there are few things more irritating than a pair of seasoned grapplers electing to partake in a mediocre kickboxing contest. It comes as no surprise, then, that both fans and media were apprehensive about the Fight Night 29 main event between Demian Maia and Jake Shields.
On paper, Maia vs. Shields had the potential for a display of some otherworldly submission grappling—the Brazilian has a string of ADCC and World Cup Championships to his name, and the American has built up a grappling record that few would scoff at.
On Wednesday night, both men managed to turn potential into reality; elite grappling was the theme of the entire bout.
Though Maia may be the better orthodox submission grappler, he was unable to stifle Shield's relentless top game whenever the fight hit the canvas.
What we'll remember about this fight
Transitions, transitions, transitions.
Whether it was Maia's takedowns against the cage or Shields feverishly working to pass Maia's guard, this fight was punctuated by the constant scrambles.
It truly was a match of human chess.
What we learned about Demian Maia
Put simply, not very much.
He pressed forward in the bout, but Shields' wrestling proved to be too much for the Brazilian. His takedown attempts were mostly stuffed, and his submission attempts off the back were to no avail. At Fight Night 29, MMA grappling was a tool used most effectively by Shields.
What we learned about Jake Shields
When he's in top form, Shields can harness his potent combination of American jiu-jitsu and top-control wrestling to stifle virtually any fighter—even one with Maia's pedigree.
That grinding style doesn't make him exciting, but it does make him effective.
What's next for Maia
With his three-fight win streak at welterweight broken, Maia will probably drop a few points from his No. 4 ranking. Still, he'll likely see a rebound opportunity against another Top 10 fighter.
What's next for Shields
Having seen the fight, who do you think is the superior grappler?
This was a tremendous win for Shields and an undeniable testament to his grappling ability.
Nonetheless, a win over Maia doesn't earn him anything too noteworthy. He'll have to ride this win into another one to see some kind of immediate relevance in the already stacked 170-pound division.
Artem Moshkovich is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for MMA news and more.