UFC Fight Night 29 is the latest UFC event to be indexed in the history books. The promotion now prepares to bring the Octagon back to the U.S. for UFC 167 this October 19.
However, before we look forward to Velasquez vs. dos Santos III, let's take a look back at Wednesday night's main card action.
It was a mixed bag with some entertaining fights, as well as some pretty dull ones. There was a handful of impressive showings as well as some lackadaisical ones. Some nice finishes and some hotly contested decisions.
As with every UFC card, there were lessons demonstrated, indications of who is ready to contend and who isn't, decisive results and troubling trends.
Here we will take a look at six of those lessons from UFC Fight Night 29.
Rousimar Palhares once looked like a middleweight contender. Then opponents figured him out and started wracking up knockouts against him.
Now Palhares starts out the same way at 170, but whether he is able to make a legitimate title run remains to be seen.
What's rather obvious at this point, however, is that fighting against Palhares simply isn't fun. It's just not.
He added another gruesome leg-lock submission to his tally at UFC Fight Night 29 this Wednesday, and in true Palhares fashion, dug in for some extra torque long after the fight had been called.
Just because he is Rousimar Palhares and that's his thing.
For one thing, the Brazilians truly do love their own. The support for every Brazilian fighter on the card was overwhelming. Of course, this is nothing new. It's the standard for when the Octagon travels to the birthplace of jiu-jitsu.
There was plenty for the Brazilians to cheer for, too, especially when the main card got underway.
Of the six main card bouts featured on Wednesday night, each had a Brazilian versus non-Brazilian fighter. The Brazilians went 4-2, taking the first four contests.
The hot start evidently wasn't enough for the Brazilian faithful. They had to get creative, cheering Rousimar Palhares as he held a leg-lock submission way past necessity, and booing Joey Beltran for having the audacity to be punched in the balls by Fabio Maldonado.
It may sound like I'm bashing Raphael Assuncao and T.J. Dillashaw, but that's not my intention. Both guys put in a solid performance and the decision could have gone either way. While Assuncao received the nod, both guys proved they are legitimate top-10 bantamweights.
However, was there anything in either fighter's showing that definitively points to equality among the division's best?
Did either guy convince you that he is on Renan Barao's level? Or Dominick Cruz's? Or what about Michael McDonald's or Urijah Faber's?
They didn't do it for me. It was more like they—or at least Assuncao—carved out some real estate in a good area of the weight class, but it's not the ritzy part of town where the aforementioned foursome hang out.
Matt Hamill fought with seeming indifference, eating shots, abandoning his wrestling and really just playing the part of a punching bag for the last five minutes or so.
The decision to retire or not retire is Hamill's alone, but the UFC might force his hand by sending him a pink slip. In a way, that could be a mercy, since Hamill hasn't shown anything since 2010 that suggests he will be able to compete with anyone of moderate renown.
It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what Hamill would need to change to become competitive—perhaps it is several things. In any case, at this point in his career, it's unlikely he has the time or capacity to make the change(s).
I'm not saying Erick Silva's future came crumbling down when he was thrashed by Dong Hyun Kim. However, it's hard to look at him the same way that the MMA world used to, back when he was widely considered a potential future champion.
Kim brought a lot of the same tools that Jon Fitch used to defeat Silva last October, so the matchup was expected to present an ideal benchmark for Silva's progress. As it turned out, it wasn't even the grind that defeated Silva; it was a shocking knockout blow.
It's damage control time now for the Brazilian. He is obviously a talented guy, but should his struggles continue, he'd hardly be the first athlete who fails to turn talent into success.
When he does compete next, it is essentially a must-win scenario.
None of Shields' recent performances have been overly impressive or particularly exhilarating, but his UFC Fight Night 29 win was his third straight. It would have been his fourth straight, if not for a positive post-fight drug test.
And despite the lack of pizzazz that has accompanied his wins, Shields is beating good fighters—most recently Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley.
He still has some work to do before he makes it back to title shot position, but he's already well down that road. If he is able to lock down a big fight for a Fight Night 29 encore, he will have the opportunity to land a title eliminator by mid 2014.
Basically, he just takes Maia's spot from him, a spot that was looking pretty enviable headed into UFC Fight Night 29.