The main card of UFC Fight Night 29 was a bit of a mixed bag. There were some thrilling moments, bouts of sloppiness, and downright brutal periods of “action”. In total, two of the six main card fights ended in a stoppage, with the other four going to the judges’ scorecards. Here’s a recap of the first five bouts, with the main event getting its own recap later on:
Raphael Assuncao (21-4) vs. T.J. Dillashaw (8-2) – Bantamweights
This was arguably the most evenly matched fight of the evening, and it deserved the honor of being “Fight of the Night”. Both men exchanged heavy strikes throughout the bout, but the closest we came to a finish was when Dillashaw attempted a neck crank in the 1st round, but Assuncao escaped and largely spent the rest of his fight trying to win the standup. Assuncao got in some solid lefts while Dillashaw found success with knees and high kicks. The final round saw Dillashaw as the aggressor, and the two exchanged blows before a late trip-takedown attempt by Dillashaw was denied. Dillashaw was bloodied by the end of the 3rd as a result of Assuncao’s crisp and improved striking, and the judges awarded a 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 split decision to Raphael Assuncao.
Rousimar Palhares (15-5) vs. Mike Pierce (17-6) – Welterweights
Pierce bizarrely rushed in towards Palhares and found himself defending a heel hook right off the bat. He successfully fended off the first attempt, but after he and Palhares were in close quarters against the fence, Palhares dropped for another heel hook and finished the job. The controversy surrounding this fight stems from Palhares not letting go after Pierce had tapped, and it’s enough that Palhares is no longer in the UFC after his latest offense. Rousimar Palhares def. Mike Pierce by submission (heel hook) at :31 in round 1.
Fabio Maldonado (20-6) vs. Joey Beltran (14-9, 1 NC) – Light Heavyweights
Maldonado struggled to find his game with Beltran constantly pushing him against the cage, working for a single leg takedown while occasionally mixing some short punches inside. The second round was briefly more of the same, but when the two were at striking distance, Maldonado was able to fire away his jab with ridiculous ease, and Beltran had no answer. It was pretty clear that both men were starting to tire at this time and by the end of the 3rd they were completely exhausted. Maldonado’s success could be found with his jab and body shots, while Beltran was more varied with his striking, throwing a few knees and low kicks. Beltran was able to get Maldonado to the ground where he controlled the Brazilian for the final minute of an otherwise sloppy brawl. The 2nd split decision of the night saw Maldonado edge out Beltran 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. This is probably a fight worth skipping.
Thiago Silva (16-3, 2 NC) vs. Matt Hamill (11-5) – Light Heavyweights
Let’s be real, neither guy put in a good performance. Silva looked every bit an out-of-shape fighter as he possibly could, and still thoroughly beat up Hamill. After a fairly even round 1, Silva dropped Hamill in the 2nd but failed to finish him off due to his own fatigue and Hamill’s usual resolve. Thiago battered Matt with leg kicks, and by the end of the 3rd Hamill could barely stand up. It arguably should’ve been stopped as Matt’s lead leg was in complete tatters, but the slow, plodding bout went the distance with Thiago Silva defeating Matt Hamill by 30-27, 30-27, 29-27 unanimous decision.
Erick Silva (15-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (18-2-1, 1 NC) – Welterweights
This was unquestionably one of the more shocking results in the UFC this year. Silva and Kim were more than content to get into fast and often wild exchanges, with Kim firing away spinning attacks and Silva rushing in with haymakers. “Stun Gun” was able to push Silva down with a kick and he immediately pounced and started working from top position. He spent the majority of the 1st round in side control or full mount, and clearly took the opening 5 minutes. Round 2 was a different story, as Silva was timing his shots better, preventing the South Korean from taking him down, and sure enough it looked like Erick was taking over the bout. In a stunning turn of events, Kim fired a hard left hook that turned off Silva’s lights and sent the partisan crowd into a state of disbelief. It was a great, fun, action-packed fight and it should propel Kim into a matchup against a top 10 opponent. Dong Hyun Kim def. Erick Silva by KO (punch), round 2.
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