Jake Shields said he would beat top-5 welterweight Demian Maia at his own game, and that’s exactly how things played out at UFC Fight Night 29 in Brazil. Shields derailed Maia’s welterweight title hopes and more importantly kept himself relevant in the talent-rich 170 pound weight class thanks to a split decision victory. The 25 minute affair played out as most had expected, a very technical ground battle between two highly decorated jiu-jitsu specialists.
The grappling skills were evident throughout, and while it certainly didn’t have the entertainment value of some of the other bouts on the card, it was a grueling battle that sapped a lot of energy. It really was a decision that could have gone either way as there was very little separating the pair throughout.
Shields now has a little bit of momentum as it marked his second straight win after a victory at UFC 161 over Tyron Woodley. Shields is never going to be a fighter in any all-action wars, but he’s highly skilled at what he does. That showed in battling Maia on the ground and utilizing reversals to gain top position. His control of Maia was surprising as he kept the Brazilian smothered at times while landing elbows from the top. Shields has never been submitted in his career, and that confidence in his ground skills showed as Maia was unable to take advantage and showcase his superior finishing skills even in those moments when he appeared to have the upper hand.
For Maia, it was a serious setback after winning three straight fights since making the move down in weight from middleweight. He was confident a victory against Shields would lead to a title shot, but now those hopes have been dashed.
Shields, who failed in a previous title challenge against current champion Georges St.Pierre, had to come up with a standout effort in hostile territory to keep what had been a rather unspectacular UFC career afloat. He was able to do that against Maia.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports