Rousimar Palhares is one of the most feared grapplers in the sport and for good reason. Not only is he sound on the ground, but the combination of his muscular physique and love of leg-attacks has produced plenty of blood-curdling screams from foes who waited too long to tap. Or, in the case of Mike Pierce, those who tapped wildly while Palhares hung on. Palhares caught his adversary with a Heel Hook in the opening minute of their match-up and torqued it to the point Pierce called it quits. However, he held on a little too long in the eyes of many and had Submission of the Night honors withheld by the UFC as a result. While his behavior was certainly questionable, the technique itself was a thing of beauty.
Going into last night’s main event Demian Maia was seen as a likely title-contender in 2014 based on his 3-0 mark in the division including success against Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story, and Jon Fitch. However, his run to the belt was officially ended courtesy of fellow submission-specialist Jake Shields. The bout wasn’t exactly a barnburner based on the skill-sets involved but from a technical standpoint there was a lot of “good” on display. Shields’ ability to ultimately outpoint Maia, even if narrowly, showed the former Strikeforce champ is still a high-level threat in the division and could push for another crack at the championship with two more big wins.
Looking at Maldonado-Beltran on paper was enough to get most fans salivating due to the attack each employs and, for the most part, the hard-nosed light heavyweights delivered. Action started out a little slowly but by the third round the 205-pound tilters were fully engaged, throwing and eating a smorgasbord of strikes. When the dust settled, both left the bout bruised, bloody, and even more beloved by fans than before.
Dong Hyun Kim channeled his inner “Natural Born Killer” against Erick Silva during their showdown, countering a strike with one of his own landing on the Brazilian’s button and producing a result reminiscent of Carlos Condit’s finish of Dan Hardy. Silva was arguably winning the bout prior to the finish but, of course, that doesn’t mean much given the way he ultimately hit the canvas. The result scored Kim a $50,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night and also put him in line for a big bout in early 2014 based on it being his third straight instance of success.
There weren’t many clashes on the card more evenly matched than the bantamweight bout between Raphael Assuncao and T.J. Dillashaw. Each entered the effort with a four-fight winning streak and without any glaring deficiencies based on owning well-rounded arsenals. Come showtime, both found a way to put the other in precarious positions at times including a few situations in which it seemed Assuncao was on the verge of tapping out for only the second time in his 25-fight career. Though it seemed Dillashaw was going to pull things out on the scorecard, Assuncao walked away with the Split Decision nod and a possible title-shot with one more victory. Collectively, the outing featured an excellent effort from both and was rightfully named Fight of the Night.
Any MMA fan looking for a fix undoubtedly enjoyed
thanks to the action on display. The lineup featured closely-contested clashes, highlight-reel knockouts, all-out brawls, and one of the year’s nastiest submissions. As a whole, the evening was full of fun from a fight-lover’s standpoint, and lived up to the potential many saw in the show before the first set of scrappers took to the Octagon. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) UFC Fight Night 29