UFC Fight Night 29 featured welterweight grappling artists Demian Maia and Jake Shields in the night's main event, but two slug-first, defend-later light heavyweights squared off in the night's most high-octane contest.
Joey Beltran and Fabio Maldonado showcased heart, chin and a willingness to throw leather that left the Brazilian crowd roaring in appreciation.
Don't be surprised if this fight goes down as the Fight of the Night.
What we'll remember about this fight
Maldonado's swag. The volume of punches. The fun.
This fight delivered everything we expected in terms of pure brawly goodness, and both fighters flashed moments of success and supreme bravado.
Maldonado was the more technical boxer, however, a fact which earned him the judges' nod. Coupled with his Anderson Silva-esque (I'm stealing your terms, Mike Goldberg) game plan of backing himself into the cage for Beltran's convenience, Maldonado ensured a fun, fan-friendly contest.
Beltran, to his credit, landed some hard punches that would have dropped a lesser man, but his stamina and technicality was simply not enough to overcome the Brazilian on this evening.
What we learned about Beltran
Beltran does not possess the necessary skills to crack the UFC light heavyweight's upper echelon. In fact, I'm not even sure he is UFC quality.
He couldn't knock Maldonado out, and he had nothing else to fall back on to lead himself to a much-needed victory.
That said, he's fun to watch. (But we already knew that.)
What we learned about Maldonado
Like with Beltran, we did not learn much about Maldonado in this fight.
He ripped body shots, withstood punching barrages and exhibited a technical display of boxing prowess (as usual).
Nothing new here, folks.
What's next for Beltran?
If the UFC does not cut him (and that's a big "if"), look for Beltran to take on a super low-level light heavyweight like Matt Hamill (if he loses later on the card and sticks around) or the loser of UFC 167's matchup between Robert Drysdale and Cody Donovan.
What's next for Maldonado?
The winner of the Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill seems fair. Maldonado did not exactly catapult his stock with this performance.
Yes, it was fun, but he showed little that makes me think he can hang at the higher levels of the UFC's 205-pound division.