UFC Fight Night 29: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Sean SmithAnalyst IOctober 8, 2013

UFC Fight Night 29: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

    The UFC will return to action on Wednesday, when Demian Maia will welcome Jake Shields to Brazil in the UFC Fight Night 29 main event.

    Maia has been on a roll since moving to the welterweight division. The former 185-pounder has used a newfound size advantage to make the most of his grappling in three straight victories. That run has quickly pushed him into the Top Five of the official UFC welterweight rankings.

    A former 170-pound title challenger, Shields is now on the outside of the Top 10 and looking in. An upset victory over Maia on Wednesday could return him to championship contention, though.

    With another UFC event approaching, it's time to get the band back together again. Here are the main card predictions from Bleacher Report MMA's own Riley Kontek, Scott Harris, James MacDonald, Craig Amos and Sean Smith.

Raphael Assuncao vs. TJ Dillashaw

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    A win for Raphael Assuncao or TJ Dillashaw could push a future contender into the spotlight. Both men have improved their stand-up but are ground fighters first. Dillashaw is a wrestler, while Assuncao is a jiu-jitsu fighter. Duane Ludwig's Team Alpha Male has just one loss in nearly 20 fights since he took over (Justin Buchholz lost to Clay Collard), so I trust that his system will continue to work with a vastly improved Dillashaw.

    Dillashaw, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Scott Harris

    Like every Alpha Male teammate these days, Dillashaw seems more dangerous every time you see him. But everyone rolls the snake eyes eventually, and he will at least temporarily slow his team's roll when he is road-graded by the hulking Assuncao. And yes, I'm predicting a split decision. Commence shirt-rending.

    Assuncao, Split decision

     

    James MacDonald

    Team Alpha Male has been on a roll lately, and I don’t expect its momentum to be halted anytime soon. Dillashaw has looked like a world-beater in his last few fights, and he’s likely to add to the hype against Assuncao.

    Dillashaw, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Ludwig is quickly becoming the most lauded man in the MMA game for his work at Team Alpha Male. Dillashaw has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of Ludwig's tutelage, and I suspect he'll be capable of hanging with Assuncao on the feet. But I see the definitive element of the fight emerging in the wrestling. On the whole, this one will be close, but Dillashaw will be able to steal rounds with his takedowns should the need arise.

    Dillashaw, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    With very similar results against common opponents Vaughan Lee and Issei Tamura, Dillashaw and Assuncao are more evenly matched than these unanimous predictions will suggest. Dillashaw’s superior wrestling will give him the option to keep this standing if he wants, though. And it’s been said many times, but Ludwig has made a clear impact on the striking of Team Alpha Male fighters, and it’ll show again in this matchup.

    Dillashaw, TKO, Rd. 1

Mike Pierce vs. Rousimar Palhares

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    I have no idea how Rousimar Palhares will make welterweight, since he has muscles the size of boulders. He will be an imposing brute in this fight but doesn't have the wrestling that Mike Pierce possesses. Pierce is the most underrated welterweight in the UFC and is probably top 15 in my book. He will strike at a distance, clinch and score late takedowns. It won't be the most exciting game plan, but it will get him a big win on his resume.

    Pierce, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Heart says Palhares, head says Pierce. Pierce won't expose himself to one of those nasty Palhares submissions and should be able to outclass the Brazilian standing. Hector Lombard showed what to do with Palhares if you've got heavy fists, which Pierce does.

    Pierce, KO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    If Palhares makes weight, he’ll probably have to show up on Saturday sporting a wooden leg. But assuming all goes according to plan and he performs to his potential, this could be a painful night for Pierce. Still, don’t bank on this being a great fight. Pierce can make anyone look bad.

    Palhares, Submission, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    I once believed Palhares had it in him to be a middleweight champion. Now, I'm not sure whether he will be a welterweight contender. He has the bad habit of losing himself if his early attempts to haul his opponent to the mat go awry, and against a solid wrestler like Pierce, that spells trouble.

    Pierce, KO, Rd. 2

     

    Sean Smith

    It’s hard to know what to expect from Palhares in his welterweight debut, but getting a reading on Pierce is never hard. The American has never been submitted because he only gets taken down by the best wrestlers. Regardless of a potential size advantage, Pierce is a nightmare matchup for a submission specialist like Palhares.

    Pierce, KO, Rd. 2

Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    I have four words: Fight of the Night. A boxer and a brawler will meet in the Octagon and play Rock-em Sock-em Robots for three rounds. Expect blood, bombs and badassness. When it's all over, the Brazilian will win with his technical skills.

    Maldonado, Unanimous decision

     

    Scott Harris

    Everyone, including the fighters, knows why they're here. It's almost like a sideshow of excitement in a sea of Brazilian grappling. A bloodied Fabio Maldonado regroups from an early onslaught and breaks through Joey Beltran's defenses (such as they are) to even his UFC record at 3-3.

    Maldonado, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This should be heck of a fight. Both men can take a beating and dish one out to boot. Maldonado is the more skilled of the two, though. It won’t be easy, but the Brazilian’s superior boxing should see him through to a decision win.

    Maldonado, Unanimous decision

     

    Craig Amos

    There is going to be more "chin" in the Octagon than ever before when these two terminators square off. That suggests to me that the affair will go the distance, so I side with Maldonado, whose boxing technique is crisper and cleaner.

    Maldonado, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Maldonado’s boxing makes him the favorite to win most exchanges with Beltran, but “Mexicutioner” can still come away with a victory by using the right game plan. While Maldonado may end up landing more punches when standing, Beltran can control the center of the Octagon and score a takedown or two to steal a decision.

    Beltran, Unanimous decision

Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    A few years ago, Matt Hamill was one of the biggest hurdles in the light heavyweight division. Now, he is a speed bump in the way of light heavyweights looking to become contenders. If Thiago Silva can expel clean urine, he should get a win on his record here. He is a brute with nasty striking, great ground-and-pound and great all-around toughness.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2



    Scott Harris

    I do not know why Matt Hamill came out of retirement. I do know that I'm frightened for him in this one. The 37-year-old's skills have badly eroded, and it would be a shame if the second retirement came against his will, but I believe that is what will happen after Wednesday. It would be a sad final chapter for one of MMA's most inspiring stories.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 1



    James MacDonald

    I’m not optimistic about Hamill’s chances here. While he seemed to have plenty of potential early in his career, The Ultimate Fighter vet appears to have hit the ceiling on said potential. I expect Silva to keep the fight on the feet and finish Hamill in one of the later rounds. 

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 3



    Craig Amos

    Hamill has a wrestling edge and could conceivably control the action long enough to win the match, but a Silva knockout is far more likely. 

    Silva, KO, Rd. 1

     

    Sean Smith

    Earlier in his career, Hamill may have been able to beat Silva with his wrestling. However, Hamill is now 37 years old and will have to shake off 12 months of rust on Wednesday. With several first-round finishes in his career, Silva isn't an opponent against whom Hamill can afford to start slow.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 1

Erick Silva vs. Dong Hyun Kim

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    Judo meets Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the co-main event, and it could be a large disappointment, especially because Erick Silva is such an exciting fighter. Dong Hyun Kim is known for his grinding, fan-unfriendly style that sees him dominate from top position. He does not often get the finish, much to the chagrin of fans. The South Korean is much stronger and physical and should take a clear-cut decision.

    Kim, Unanimous decision



    Scott Harris

    I'm genuinely surprised that so many people like Kim in this match. Yes, he's strong. Yes, he's a great grinder. But it's not like Silva is some kind of babe in the grappling woods; he isn't. My guess is he'll be able to stay upright, prey on Kim's inferior striking and finally get that signature win.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    James MacDonald

    This is an intriguing contest. While Silva has a ton of potential, Kim has the game to shut down the Brazilian starlet. The South Korean is a talented grappler, and Silva’s cardio has been exposed in the past. If Kim can turn this into a grappling match, he may be able to grind out the win. However, I have a feeling that Silva has put in the time to fill in the holes in his game and will be able to prevent Kim from imposing his will.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 2

     

    Craig Amos

    Once proclaimed "the next big thing" at welterweight, Silva's course to stardom was stalled when Jon Fitch did what he does best by grinding out a win over the Brazilian and quelling some of the hype. Silva responded as well as he could have by quickly submitting Jason High, but Kim is a whole other ballgame. The Korean grappling specialist has the proper tool kit to throw another wrench in Silva's rise, and I expect him to do just that on Wednesday night.

    Kim, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Silva may have been stifled on the ground by Fitch, but it's not like he has a long history of being shut down by grapplers. Charlie Brenneman and Jason High are both very solid wrestlers, and Silva submitted both of them in the first round. While Kim's never been submitted, Silva's results against Brenneman and High give me faith the Brazilian can keep this standing long enough to hand the Korean a third knockout loss.

    Silva, TKO, Rd. 1

Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields

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    Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

    Riley Kontek

    This fight has the potential to be a fun grappling match of a Metamoris level or something on the level of a 800 mg Ambien. Demian Maia has looked unbelievable since dropping to 170 pounds, outwrestling Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story and Jon Fitch. I feel that Fitch is a stronger version of Jake Shields, and Demian Maia completely dominated him. The Brazilian wins in his home territory.

    Maia, Unanimous decision



    Scott Harris

    As the MMA section of Twitter fell all over itself to point out that night: Maia out-Fitched Fitch at UFC 156. Is there any reason to think he can't out-Shields Shields as well? I don't see one.

    Maia, Unanimous decision



    James MacDonald

    This is one of those rare bouts that will have the audience praying for a grappling match. It’s not often that we get to see two truly elite grapplers go head-to-head inside the cage, so we can only hope that it doesn’t turn into a mediocre kickboxing contest. If we do get the fight we’re looking for, I expect Maia to come out on top. As good as Shields is on the ground, he’s not quite on Maia’s level.

    Maia, Unanimous decision



    Craig Amos

    Both guys are grappling-centric fighters, but Maia has an edge on the floor. He also has slightly better, if still only average, striking. And lately he's proved capable of dragging opponents with staunch takedown defense to the mat. Everything is coming up Maia!

    Maia, Unanimous decision

     

    Sean Smith

    Shields has surprisingly only stopped 38 percent of takedown attempts since joining the UFC roster. If Maia could take Fitch down repeatedly, he should be able to find the same success against Shields. Finishing Shields on the ground is another thing, but Maia should keep on rolling in this matchup.

    Maia, Unanimous decision