Jake Shields entered hostile territory at UFC Fight Night 29 and picked up a hard-fought split-decision win over Demian Maia in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday evening.
At the end of the night, the fans in the Correa Arena weren’t too happy with the decision for Shields, but it was apparent in the judges’ eyes that he had done enough to pull it out in a tough fight.
“That was one of the top two or three hardest fights of all time,” Shields said post-fight. “That ranks up there with GSP and Dan Henderson. He’s a phenom and I expected that going in. He gave me all I could handle.”
Maia scored with the first takedown using a body lock takedown against the fence. Shields got back to his feet, but Maia took him down again and briefly secured the back. Jake then hula hooped Maia off his back and wound up in the Brazilian’s guard. For the remainder of the round, Shields managed to stay on top and land small punches in Maia’s butterfly guard.
In round two, Maia went for a high crotch but Shields countered and wound up in top position. Shields briefly passed to half guard on occasion but could not do much other than hold top position.
The Brazilian started round three out-striking Shields and finding a home for his left hand. Maia proceeded with a takedown and took the back, but Shields quickly spun around and ended up on top in Maia’s guard. Shields peppered Maia with short punches on top for the remainder of the round.
Shields pressed hard for the takedown in the first three minutes of round four, but couldn’t get Maia down. After a last takedown attempt by Shields, Maia ended up on top in Shields guard and peppered the American with punches.
In the fifth and final round, Shields opened up with more right kicks to the head. Shields went hard for the single-leg takedowns, but Maia stuffed all his attempts. Maia found some success at the end of the fifth round once he started throwing his left hand.
The judges scored the fight 48-47, 47-48, and 48-47, a split decision in favor of Shields.
Shields admitted that he knew it was close heading in the fifth round, so he decided to pick up the pace as much as he could to emerge victorious.
“In the fifth round, in my mind, I had it two rounds a piece,” Shields continued. “I thought we were even. I got a little tired, so I wanted to stand up more. I thought I edged it out there, but it was close and I was thankful I got the win tonight.”
Shields earned his second win in a row back at welterweight with the Maia win.