COMMENTARY | Demian Maia will headline a UFC fight card for the first time in his MMA career against Jake Shields on Oct. 9 at the Jose Correa Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Brazilian has certainly earned it given how dominant he's been during his last few outings.
Here are my predictions for the UFC Fight Night 29 card:
Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields
Shields (28-6-1, 10 submissions) pulled off an upset the last time he stepped inside the Octagon, defeating Tyron Woodley via split decision. Another win against a solid opponent like Maia (18-4-0, 9 submissions) would be a significant boost up the welterweight rankings for Shields, but getting past Demian in Brazil won't be an easy task.
Besides having a stadium full of boisterous Brazilian MMA fans behind him, Maia should have the advantage in the striking and grappling departments, making this a tough matchup for Shields despite his solid grappling credentials.
If the pressure of headlining a card at home doesn't push Maia into fighting conservatively, those who enjoy the grappling arts should be in for an entertaining display of top-level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Prediction: Maia wins via submission.
Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Silva (15-3-0, 9 submissions) will get his second chance to prove he is indeed a future contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's welterweight division when he squares up against Kim (17-2-1, 6 KOs) at UFC Fight Night 29.
Silva is the more versatile striker, but he might have problems keeping the fight standing against a solid wrestler like Kim -- who will also have a size advantage.
Silva vs. Kim should be a very competitive contest, but the Korean's past experience should pay dividends come fight time.
Prediction: Kim via decision.
Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill
Hamill (11-4-0, 6 KOs) will have his hands full when he collides with Silva (15-3-0, 12 KOs) at UFC Fight Night 29. Thiago is coming off a "Knockout of the Night" and "Fight of the Night" performance against former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante.
A few years ago, I would have confidently picked Hamill -- who should have the grappling advantage -- over Silva -- who is the better striker, but it's hard to tell where Matt is mentally nowadays. Silva on the other hand will be highly motivated to put on a show in front of his fellow Brazilians, meaning things can go very bad for Hamill at UFC Fight Night 29.
Prediction: Silva wins via knockout.
Raphael Assunção vs. T.J. Dillashaw
Both men have a lot of momentum going into UFC Fight Night 29 which should lead to an entertaining bout. Dillashaw's striking continues to improve with each outing, but I'm not sure it'll be enough to deal with Raphael's Muay Thai.
Dillashaw's (8-1-0, 3 KOs) best bet would be to grind Assunção (20-4-0, 9 submissions) down, but, given the Brazilian's solid takedown defense, that won't be an easy task.
Prediction: Assunção wins via decision.
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