Welterweight Dong Hyun Kim, who fought on the evening's co-main event.
UFC Fight Night 29 went down Wednesday night from Brazil. In the main event, Brazilian jiu-jitsu hero Demian Maia tried to take another step toward a welterweight title shot against a stiff grappler in American Jake Shields.
But for a middle-of-the-week card, the action was decidedly outside the middle of the pack. Well, some of it was, anyway. A little of it?
In any event, here's a recap of everything that happened on the main card, as well as grades for every main card fighter.
Result: Raphael Assuncao def. TJ Dillashaw by split decision
Do I smell...do I smell home cooking?
Assuncao earns a lower grade thanks to his benefiting from a pretty questionable judging decision in his home nation. It was probably an even fight heading into the final stanza, with Dillashaw bleeding from a heavy Assuncao punch, but Dillashaw showed good defense and offense in the third.
Whether it was the all-important sight of blood or something else, the judges saw it for Assuncao, and in my opinion, they saw it wrong on Wednesday night.
You have to feel for the first Team Alpha Male member to lose in the UFC since Duane Ludwig joined the coaching staff. Dillashaw did a great job of preventing Assuncao's takedown attempts and landing a diverse array of strikes, but in the end it just wasn't enough.
Cheer up, Dillashaw. At least you outgraded him.
Results: Rousimar Palhares def. Mike Pierce by submission (heel hook), 0:31, Rd. 1
Paul Harris is back. So why isn't everybody celebrating? Where's the A+?
In his welterweight debut, the wolverine of MMA jiu-jitsu showed he hadn't really gone anywhere. Pierce fended off one of those signature heel hooks, but he couldn't stave off the second.
Pierce tapped right away, and it was all over. But Palhares, seemingly unable to leave any octagonal area without acting like a crazy person, held the hold far too long.
His eccentricity would be a lot more lovable if other people's limbs weren't at risk.
Pierce rightly looked to land the big blow early, and he played a bit of nice defense when he found himself on the ground.
But the 31-second loss put quite a slam of the brakes on all that contender talk.
After winning four straight, he is still a very good fighter, and he simply got caught on Wednesday. Nevertheless, he's facing a lot more questions than he was on Tuesday.
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Fabio Maldonado def. Joey Beltran by split decision
I love this photo. Get jacked up, brah!
This fight was what we thought it would be: an entertaining slugfest featuring a tough but technical brawler in Maldonado and a tough but not-very-technical brawler in Beltran.
It was a back-and-forth affair, but Maldonado's jab was the difference. Beltran watched it come down the pipe like he'd never seen one before, and it ran Maldonado to 2-0 for 2013.
Beltran tried to dirty it up and bloody it up. He was successful on both fronts, and there's a case to be made that he eked out a decision.
But that's why you never leave it in the...I forget the rest of that phrase.
Division: Light heavyweight
Result: Thiago Silva def. Matt Hamill by unanimous decision
More gas than Conoco.
Thank you, thank you! I do weddings, call me.
Despite a clear and very decided advantage in the stand-up, Silva was unable to seriously hurt Hamill, much less put him away. He seemed exhausted before the horn sounded at the end of the first, and the whole thing was just a slog in the slop from there.
Cheers to Silva for winning. Jeers for doing so by default.
Two performances since coming out of retirement were two very poor performances for Matt Hamill.
The former college wrestling champ had nothing behind his takedown attempts. That is, when he bothered to attempt them. I'm not even going to talk about those jiggly punches.
I wrote earlier this week that Hamill should not have unretired. Anyone else want to get on the bandwagon?
Result: Dong Hyun Kim def. Erick Silva by KO (punch), 3:01 of Rd. 2
Give it up for the evening's clear MVP, the "Stun Gun" Dong Hyun Kim.
The action was a bit uneven over the course of the evening, but Kim made sure fans had a signature moment when he landed a left hook perfectly on Silva's off switch to pick up the straight knockout.
Even before that, he staged a very impressive performance. Although his grappling prowess is no secret, I was personally surprised by how easily he maintained top control on Silva in Round 1.
Silva came alive in the second, tenderizing Kim with some knees. But Kim had the last laugh and the best performance of the night.
Erick Silva, Gatekeeper?
Who would have thought that just a year ago, after he won Submission of the Night against Charlie Brenneman? Silva was on the phenom track: He was an exciting, charismatic and well-rounded Brazilian who had a big breakout win always around the corner.
But after losing to Kim, that win may not be there.
His last two wins have come over Brenneman and Jason High—fine fighters both but not the guys with whom a road to the title is paved.
Silva is now 2-2 in his last four, and it's seeming more and more like bad luck and bad matchups may not be the top culprits.
Result: Jake Shields def. Demian Maia by split decision
Given that the other two split decisions on the card (and a good many before that) went to the hometown hero, it seemed Maia was in line for the W after a grueling marathon on the mat.
But Shields came away with it.
He had trouble landing takedowns consistently, but he stayed aggressive, beat Maia to the position, won most of the scrambles, pulled off some beautiful reversals and kept his endurance up during a draining fight.
No, there weren't a lot of fireworks. But it's a huge win for Shields, and it was an entertaining performance if excellence is something you care about.
I'll be honest: I thought Maia had this in the bag. But Shields was truly elite in this one, and I feel the need to tip my cap.
Maia out-Fitched Jon Fitch. But he couldn't out-Shields Jake Shields.
Maia had plenty of his own moments in the fight, stuffing the Shields takedown shot over and over again. He also appeared to have an overall striking advantage (FightMetric shows him with a slight edge in accuracy), although that's a little like giving a cat the advantage over the mouse in a dog contest.
But Shields had the blanket ready. Maia found Shields passing his guard repeatedly and achieving a dominant position.
Interestingly, FightMetric shows that neither man registered a submission attempt.
Call it more of a gut feeling than anything else, but if you told me in advance this would be a five-round grappling war without a submission attempt, I would have changed my pick away from Maia.