UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs Shields Preview
By Mike Fagan, October 8th, 2013
Lookie here. A Fight Night card, in Brazil, and it’s actually pretty good? Gosh darn! Slap me on the bum, call me Sally, and order me into the submissive side of some BDSM ballgag play, because I can’t believe it!
-It was just a few years ago when Jake Shields was the Hot MMA Free Agent, being paraded around on UFC telecasts by Dana White’s Cheshire grin. Tomorrow night, his job could be on the line.
He’s 3-2 in the UFC. He would be 4-2, save for a failed post-fight drug test at UFC 150 (for what, we do not know). He hasn’t looked dominant in his three wins, especially for a guy thrown into a title shot track from the start, and the title fight he received against Georges St-Pierre hinged on Martin Kampmann’s fight IQ.
Oh, and he makes a lot of money. The Kampmann fight cost the UFC $150k. He hasn’t fought under a purse-reporting commission since (and won’t tomorrow), but Shields’ first UFC purse was worth more than what Yushin Okami and Jon Fitch (whose UFC run was ended by Demian Maia) were making when they were cut. If Dana White is serious about freeing up room on the roster, Shields has to be worrying about job security heading into the Octagon.
-Where Shields is fighting for a job, Demian Maia is fighting to put himself into the title hunt. A solid run at middleweight (9-4 UFC) fell by the wayside with losses to Silva, Weidman, Munoz, and Marquardt (i.e., division elite). His move down to welterweight already includes throwing judoman Dong Hyun Kim, twisting Rick Story’s head off, and running Jon Fitch out of the UFC.
You always expect a guy to look stronger when he moves down in weight, but Maia’s physicality has been something of a surprise. He ran into trouble against physically imposing guys at middleweight, and the move down looked like an attempt to even the playing field. Instead, he’s ragdolling people at 170 pounds, and not your run-of-the-mill guys either. Kim and Fitch, in particular, are two of the biggest guys at welterweight, and Maia did whatever he wanted against both.
A win over Shields doesn’t guarantee anything for Maia. St-Pierre has to get by Johny Hendricks, Carlos Condit might earn another shot with a win over Matt Brown, and the UFC might dump a bunch of designer clothes on Rory MacDonald’s lawn to get him to fight his buddy. But it gives him a viable resume, and a UFC 112-like situation may arise where he proves to be the Best Worst Option.
-People started to crown Erick Silva as the next big thing at welterweight for a hot minute during the summer of 2012. Then he ran into Jon Fitch. Or, rather, the UFC stepped on Silva’s foot, then shot those feet, before headbutting one another and falling unconscious to the floor. Silva’s a little old on the prospect side of things (he turned 29 in July), but there was no need to rush things. The jump from Ramos/Prater/Brenneman to Fitch is cavernous, and a guy like, say, Dong Hyun Kim would have been more appropriate.
It’s not a death knell for Silva’s career by any means. If he can stay active over the next two years, he can put together a solid, logically progressive run and get himself back on track. But the Fitch fight set him back, at least in terms of buzz around him, and the UFC’s thought process is still confusing. Were they betting on Silva beating Fitch in order to kill two birds with one stone (feeding Silva’s hype and having reason to cut ties with Fitch)? Did they put the fight in Brazil to give him every possible advantage?
-Dong Hyun Kim may have been a more logical fight for Silva back at UFC 153, but still a dangerous one…then and now. He has two UFC losses to Carlos Condit and Demian Maia (a third, split-decision loss to Karo Parisyan was overturned when Karo popped for a Florida Cocktail), but otherwise feasts on tossing guys around and sucking souls from top control. Silva’s a 2-1 favorite heading in, but this fight is closer to even if Kim puts him on his back early.
-If trends hold true, Thiago Silva will elbow the hearing back into Matt Hamill’s ears and then test positive for gorilla semen extract. Silva’s had a solid career, but his legacy will probably rest on two failed drug tests. The first, a bizarre case of falsifying his drug test after bongo-drumming Brandon Vera. The Nevada commission found that Silva’s sample was “inconsistent with human urine,” which leaves all sorts of questions about where the hell the urine came from and why the hell Silva (and anyone associated with this Michael Scott plot) thought it was a good idea.
He followed that up with another failed test two fights later, this time testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Popping for marijuana metabolites should have the commission (in this case the UFC) playing step-dad: “Don’t let me see you doing this again.” Instead, he got six months and a second overturned win. On its own, whatever, but looks worse after just coming off another drug suspension.
-Matt Hamill’s trainer, Duff Holmes, won’t be traveling to Brazil with him. It’s unclear if Holmes is refusing to train Hamill (you can find a quote from Boogerman’s report here) or just not taking part in that actual fight part of things. In any case, he feels Hamill should have re-retired after the Roger Hollett fight, and that fighting isn’t healthy for him. Which, you know, is true for everyone, but you understand the risk/reward thing for a old, slow, deaf guy who’s made a bunch of money and raised enough of a profile to live on.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET at FightFansRadio.com, also available as a podcast via iTunes.