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UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields
By: Mark Kern - StatFox
Published: 10/9/2013  at  5:26:00 AM
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UFC Fight Night 29: Maia vs. Shields

Wednesday, October 9 – 11:30 p.m. ET
Barueri, Brazil

Demian Maia (18-4) vs. Jake Shields (28-6-1)

Welterweight bout
Line: Maia -285, Shields +225

Two UFC veterans square off at UFC Fight Night in Brazil on Wednesday night as Jake Shields will look to defeat No. 4-ranked Demian Maia in the main event.

This is a very intriguing matchup as it puts two of the most successful grapplers in the UFC in the Octagon against each other. Since losing to Chris Weidman on Jan. 28, 2012, Maia has looked very impressive in winning his past three fights. His last match against Jon Fitch at UFC 156 on Feb. 2 was a very tough and grueling bout, but he was able to do enough to get the unanimous victory. At No. 4 in the welterweight class, Maia has a chance to move up the ladder and enter the conversation for a title bout, but he is going to have to take care of Jake Shields, who is out to prove he is still the same fighter he used to be. Things seemed to be going well for Shields after he defeated Ed Herman at UFC 150 in August of 2012. However, he failed a drug test after the fight, and was suspended six months as his punishment. He was able to get a victory at UFC 161 on June 15 over Tyron Woodley, but it was not the kind of dominating victory that Dana White wanted to see coming off suspension. Shields has shown the ability to successfully win the big match, as he has defeated the likes of Dan Henderson and Martin Kampmann. Once again, Shields has the opportunity to show the UFC world that he has put the past behind him. However, MAIA is too big and strong for Shields, and will win the match in dominating fashion.

Maia came into UFC as a guy that was thought to be able to take over the sport. After winning six of his first seven matches, he got the opportunity to fight Anderson Silva for the belt on April 10, 2010, but lost a five-round unanimous decision. Of his 18 career MMA victories, nine of them have been by way of submission, and of his dozen UFC victories, six have been by submission. At UFC 153, Maia submitted Rick Story in the first round by way of a neck crank. He must use that grappling part of his game, as Shields is the much better striker of the two, with 1.82 strikes landed per minute for Maia, compared to 2.74 strikes landed per minute for Shields. For the 35-year-old Maia, he has been very close to a title once in his career, and with a win, could inch closer to earning another shot at a UFC championship. However, he must stay focused on the task at hand, and not allow Shields to get comfortable in the match.

There is no doubt that with everything that has happened in his past, this is a must-win for the 34-year-old Shields. Of his 28 career victories, 15 have come by decision. His cardio has never been questioned, and he has shown on numerous occasions that he can go the distance in a match without becoming fatigued. He was once known as one of the best submission finishers in the UFC, piling up 10 career submission victories, but has not won a match in that fashion since defeated Robbie Lawler in 2009. He really struggles with his takedown defense, blocking just 37.5 percent of the opposition’s attempted takedowns, but his 33.1% takedown accuracy is slightly better than Maia's 32.7% clip. If Shields is going to win this match, he must not allow Maia to get his hands on him.

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