UFC Fight Night 29 kicks off in Brazil on Wednesday, which features a compelling welterweight showdown between Demian Maia and Jake Shields, two of the premiere grapplers in the division. Both are looking to get a win in hopes of fighting for the title, and this is arguably the biggest fight of both their careers. Let’s now take a look at the rest of the card and make some predictions.
Bantamweight: Rafael Assuncao vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Both of these bantamweights have power in their hands, but with the recent addition of head striking coach Duane Ludwig, he should be able to have his way with Rafael early. Dillashaw will time his shots, often threatening with takedowns, and he will get an impressive finish over a dynamic grappler in Rafael.
Final Prediction: T.J. Dillashaw wins via TKO in the first round.
Welterweight: Mike Pierce vs. Rousimar Palhares
This will be Palhares’ first time at welterweight, and it will be interesting to see how he handles the weight cut. The UFC didn’t do him any favors by giving him Pierce, who is one of the most underrated fighters in the division. Pierce will force Palhares up against the cage, where he will explode with punches. He will hurt Palhares early, and he will keep going until the ref steps in. Pierce has only lost to the best of them in his career, and he will be too much for Palhares, which will be apparent early in the fight.
Final Prediction: Mike Pierce wins via TKO in the second round.
Light Heavyweight: Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran
Both of these fighters have knockout power, and it will be interesting to see who can land first. Beltran has looked great since transitioning to the light heavyweight division, and he will use this momentum to stifle Maldonado with his wrestling. Maldonado is a great boxer, but Beltran will be able to use his strength, bringing Maldonado down enough times to get the decision.
Final Prediction: Joey Beltran wins via unanimous decision.
Light Heavyweight: Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill
Hamill is coming out of retirement to face a stern test in Silva, who will be looking to get another knockout on his resume. Since Hamill has been out of active competition for so long, it’s hard to see him having any success against one of the better strikers in the division. Silva will thwart off the takedown attempts from Hamill, and he will use his brutal kicks and powerful punches to find the opening.
Final Prediction: Thiago Silva wins via TKO in the first round.
Welterweight: Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Silva comes into this bout the better striker, and Kim is by far the better grappler. The question is: Will Kim be able to get Silva down, just like Jon Fitch did in his bout with Silva? That’s the blueprint for Kim, and he will execute it to perfection in this fight. Kim has only found himself in trouble in his UFC tenure against Carlos Condit, who is one of the most lethal strikers in the division.
Silva is just as dangerous, but he will not be able to land on Kim enough times to really hurt him. Kim will gauge the distance, and will shoot in to get takedowns when they present themselves. He will grind on Silva for each round, pressuring him with strikes and threatening him with submissions.
Final Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim wins via decision.
Main Event (Welterweight): Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields
This bout is, essentially, two of the best grapplers in the division squaring off. Maia is a world class jiu jitsu practitioner, and he can submit any man that goes to the ground with him. Shields relies on his American jiu jitsu. He often pressures opponents and wears them down until a submission presents itself.
On paper, this fight could be gold on the ground, but often times we see fighters negate each other’s skill, and they end up putting on a lackluster fight. This will not be the case in this bout; however, Maia will be able to control Shields, unlike anyone has been able to do inside the UFC. Maia has found astonishing success at welterweight, where he isn’t at a distinct disadvantage in terms of size and strength. This has boded well for him, and he will control Shields each round on the ground. He may even be able to find a submission early.
Final Prediction: Demian Maia wins via submission in the second round.