after a closely contested main event at UFC Fight Night 29 this evening that was contested largely on the mat, Jake Shields did just enough to earn a split decision win over Demian Maia.
Quick leg kicks from Shields to start this one and Maia moves in for an early takedown against the cage. Maia lose shis balance for a moment, but quickly readjusts and then does get Shields to the mat with a minute gone.
Maia working from Shields butterfly guard and starts to land a few punches to his face while he’s pressed up against the cage.
Shields manages to work back upright and reverses the position, pressing Maia up against the cage. Maia spins him around again though and then takes him back down.
Shields working up again, but Maia takes his back and hops up onto him. Shields is able to shake him off and gets on top on the mat for the first time.
Shields would like to pass if possible, but Maia is controlling him fairly well. With a minute to go Shields gets to half-guard and lands some mild punches to the body and head. A few short elbows land and that’s the end of the round.
Shields with a leg kick and a body kick to start the second. Shields goes in looking for a takedown, but Maia is able to reverse and is looking for the same in return. It’s not happening either, but Shields does a nice job of spinning around and getting Maia down.
Shields bleeding a little now from the face, but he’s on top and landing some short elbows down from inside Maia’s half-guard.
Half-way through the round and Shields will be happy to be matching Maia on the mat so far. Despite Maia’s grappling credentials he’s not seeing much of an opportunity to work for submissions at this stage.
Closing in on a minute to go in the round and Shields lands a couple of solid elbows. Maia’s got Shields pretty much locked down in his guard now and the rest of the round rides out in uneventful fashion.
Another kick to start for Shields. Maia lands with a punch and then wings another couple of shots that miss. Both men a little tentative on the feet, but when they do let their hands go it’s Maia who’s punches have a little more weight and purpose behind them.
Perhaps sensing that Shields goes for a takedown, but Maia stuffs it. Beautiful little move from Shields as they go to the mat and he spins over Maia’s back to gain top control.
Maia’s soon back upright though and now he’s got Shields down and has his back. Great scramble and reversal from Shields though and he gets back on top. Good stuff.
After those slick moves from Shields he reverts back to his grinding style on top, not offering up a whole lot of meaningful offense from inside Maia’s guard, but doing enough to maintain control of the position.
Shields presses in with a takedown early in the fourth round and presses Maia up against the cage. Maia reverse and now has Shields pressed up in the same position.
Shields tries to throw Maia, but it doesn’t work out. Maia tries the same, but nothing doing. Back and forth they go up against the cage until the referee breaks the stalemate apart.
They reset in the middle of the cage. Shields goes upstairs with a kick that’s blocked. Shields goes low for the takedown, but it’s stuffed by Maia and they get back upright.
Shields tries again down low, fails and Maia gets on top in guard with the best part of a couple of minutes to go.
Like Shields, Maia isn’t doing a great deal offensively other than some body shots and with 50 seconds of the round remaining the ref opts to stand them up again.
A couple of kicks land for shields while Maia looks like he wants to throw punches, but is being overly hesitant as the round comes to an end.
All to play for in the final round. Swings and misses from both men. Maia looking for the big straight left down the pipe, but doesn’t quite have his range.
Shields shoots in, but Maia sprawls and stuffs the takedown. Back up again and Shields tries for a head kick that’s blocked, then drives in for a takedown. He gets Maia up against the cage, but is stalling.
Maia reverses and has him in the clinch, but opts to back away. A few light kicks land for Shields.
Maia lands a solid left hander. shields sticking with his kicks. Shields looking for the takedown once more and he’s working hard for it. He almost gets it, but at the last moment Maia is able to avoid it. Shields not letting go of this attempt though and they are broken apart again by the ref.
20 seconds to go and Maia wings some punches, landing a straight left. Another left lands for Maia and Shields kicks to the body a couple of times just before the bell sounds.
Not a whole lot to choose between these two after five rounds so it’s a tough call for the judges. It’s down to a split decision verdict and Shields has done just enough to get the nod from two of the judges and so he gets his hand raised (48-47 x2, 47-48).