Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) delivered a sold mixed martial arts (MMA) card for free television last night (Weds., Oct. 9, 2013), providing us an action-packed evening of fights at UFC Fight Night 29: "Maia vs. Shields," which emanated from Jose Correa Gymnasium in Barueri, Brazil.
In the main event, jiu-jitsu and grappling fans rejoiced -- with others being totally dissatisfied -- as they watched Demian Maia and Jake Shields engage in a competitive, five-round grapple fest in which American jiu-jitsu prevailed (watch full fight video highlights here).
Shields got the split decision nod over Maia, getting the best of the home crowd favorite by utilizing his wrestling and power throughout the fight. The fans were likely upset that their man Maia was losing, but if they were dissatisfied with the fight in general, what did they expect ... a slugfest?
In the co-main event, we were treated to a back-and-forth war between Dong Hyun Kim and Erick Silva, who brought the fireworks to Brazil. If the fight itself was exciting, the ending was spine-tingling, as Dong Hyun Kim scored what could have been his biggest win in the promotion by knocking out Erick Silva with one punch (watch full fight video highlights here).
Unfortunately, in a sport like MMA, each bout can only have one winner and one loser. Earning a victory inside the world-famous Octagon is the highest of highs, while suffering defeat in front of millions of viewers can be the lowest of lows.
Every competitor who steps foot in the eight-walled cage is looking for that moment of glory. Some of it capture it, others don't. There were several shining stars on UFC Fight Night 29, including career-defining performances and unexpected finishes. With that being said, it's time to name the biggest winner and biggest loser from the event in Brazil.
Drum roll please ...
Biggest Winner -- Dong Hyun Kim
Despite being wilted, on the brink of being finished, throwing terrible spinning elbows and grabbing the fence for good measure when he needed to, "Stun Gun" stunned the crowd by knocking out Silva, finishing the fight by strikes, something he has not done since 2008.
Kim had a decent first round and besides not being able to get the better of Silva in the striking department, he took him down, used his wrestling skills and began to nullify the Brazilian.
After Silva rocked Kim multiple times in the second round, Kim landed a counter-left hand out of nowhere and followed up with unnecessary punches -- knocking out the fan favorite in Brazil.
"Stun Gun" was a man on a mission before he lost to Carlos Condit in 2011, who eventually went on to win the interim Welterweight championship. Now Kim can look toward rebuilding that form en route to a title shot that probably isn't right around the corner, which doesn't seem to faze him in the slightest.
If you look at Kim's last two losses, one was against Condit and the other was against Maia, where he suffered a freak rib injury at UFC 148. He is now on a three-fight win streak, and if you count two losses, his UFC record is highly respectable (9-2-(1). There is no shame in losing to arguably one of the two best guys in the division, especially since the Maia fight was cut short.
"Stun Gun" has reloaded and is now a man rejuvenated.
Runner Up -- Jake Shields
It was ugly, grueling and somewhat expected -- Shields got the nod over Maia in a hard-fought battle in Brazil. It was his "American Jiu-Jitsu" that prevailed as he was able to defeat a Brazilian in Brazil by focusing on his grappling and his combination of wrestling / jiu-jitsu.
This win is exactly what the doctor prescribed for the Cesar Gracie-trained product because there was a notion that his job was on the line. He had only two wins out of his last five and currently riding a two-fight win streak. He can now breathe and move toward improving his standing in the packed Welterweight division.
To beat Maia is a feather in his cap itself, although to edge the man in his own country in front of thousands of fans against him as an underdog, is something he can savor for some time.
Biggest Loser -- Erick Silva
"Indio" did not have the worst of nights leading up to his knockout loss -- he was electric, ferocious and full of fire. He simply got caught with a counter for which he didn't anticipate.
What is troubling is that Silva has now lost to two superior opponents in the promotion, Jon Fitch and Kim. And it does not look like he can excel and do exceptionally well against the higher ranked fighters of the division. He could bounce back, and at age 29, it is nowhere near over for him. It is just a frustrating scenario where he will meet lower-card competition, crush them, but then hit a few roadblocks who will shatter his hopes to climb up the ranks.
What we have seen from his stand up is satisfactory (supplementary to the way the fight ended) yet his grappling -- more important, his wrestling -- has not improved. If he is pitted up against a wrestler again it could be a nightmare for him.
Silva simply has to improve in that aspect. And then, maybe, we can talk about him living up to his full potential.
Runner Up -- Mike Pierce
After talking a lot of smack and saying he is pissed off for having to fight a cheat like Rousimar Palhares (not to mention calling him an asshole, too), Pierce saw his four-fight win streak come to a halt after succumbing to a heel hook, adding his ankle to the Brazilian's collection (watch full fight video highlights here).
Pierce had a forgettable evening for several reasons -- he engaged in grappling with his opponent, a one-trick pony who has the ability to submit anyone if they play his game. Pierce should have stood up and traded for a little bit before trying to grind out his opponent, which he obviously did not respect enough.
It also kills any possibility of Pierce being on the main card again until he wins emphatically, since the middle of a four-fight win streak was not even enough to grant him a shot there.
Finally, after calling his opponent a cheat, among other names previously mentioned, he lost in 31 seconds, which pretty much sums it up.
For complete UFC Fight Night 29 results and blow-by-blow coverage of all the night's action, click here.