UFC Fight Night 29 is just 10 fights (as opposed to 12 or 13) thanks to a pair of canceled bouts, but the quality of the main card is quite solid. An important welterweight main event sees Demian Maia go up against Jake Shields, and a win for Maia could see him in the rare league of fighters who have challenged for a UFC title in multiple weight classes.
This piece will focus on the other 5 fights on the main card just before the night's big attraction. The welterweight division is on display, but there's also a very intriguing matchup between top 10 bantamweights on tap. You can catch the main card live on Fox Sports 1 at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT, and here are the fights that you'll see later this evening:
"Indio" has been touted as one of the top prospects and future contenders at welterweight, and last year he was put to the test against Jon Fitch. He lost a unanimous decision, having been completely dominated in the final round of the close bout, but he did win a FOTN award. Silva returned to the cage in June of this year and swiftly submitted Jason High in less than a minute. Aside from the Fitch setback, Silva has been outstanding (including the DQ loss vs. Carlo Prater, which lasted 30 seconds and was stopped after Silva hit Prater in the back of the head) in his short UFC career, an a win over Kim would be his best accomplishment yet.
"Stun Gun" has been one of the UFC's most consistent performers in the division, having lost only to Carlos Condit and Demian Maia, and the latter loss was after he suffered a major muscle spasm defending a takedown. His last two wins have been seemingly easy beyond comprehension, taking out Paulo Thiago and Siyar Bahadurzada by one-sided unanimous decisions. His judo, ground-and-pound, and positional prowess make him a tough outing for anyone in the division, and he could arguably be in the title hunt with another quality win tonight.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for Thiago Silva in the past few years. He was once considered a serious title contender at 205 lbs, but after losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, coupled with injuries and failed drug tests, he's settled somewhere in the middling ranks of the division. He did put in a good performance against Rafael Cavalcante, scoring a 1st round TKO of the former Strikeforce champion. Silva missed weight for this one and has forfeited 25% of his purse to Hamill, so it's more bad press for Thiago.
Hamill didn't really acquit himself well at all in his win over Roger Hollett, which marked his first fight since his declared retirement in 2011. "The Hammer" holds wins over Jon Jones (say what you want but technically he won), Tito Oritz, and Mark Munoz. He's taken on the best of the best throughout his career but against Hollett he looked to clearly be past his best. Hamill goes into this fight without his long time head trainer Duff Holmes, who believes that Hamill shouldn't be fighting anymore.
Maldonado is hailed for his boxing skills and body punching, but that hasn't fully translated to a prosperous UFC career. After a debut triumph over James McSweeney, Maldonado dropped his next 3 fights, but gained plenty of fans for his heart and ability to take a punch after Glover Teixeira wiped him out at UFC 153. Maldonado took the bout with Teixeira on short notice, and lasted 2 rounds before a forced doctor's stoppage. He finally ended the losing streak by edging out Roger Hollett at UFC on FX 8.
Beltran is best known for his willingness to engage in all-out brawls, which he can withstand due to his very sturdy chin. Only Lavar Johnson has knocked him out, and after a brief period out of the UFC, "The Mexicutioner" was back in the Octagon as a 205er. He won FOTN in a decision loss to James Te Huna, and beat up Igor Pokrajac before the result was flipped to a no-contest following Beltran's failed drug test. Beltran should have both the power advantage on the feet and the wrestling advantage if he decides to take it to the mat.
Palhares is known for his gruesome heel hooks and aggressive submission hunting, but he's been knocked out in his last two fights by Hector Lombard and Alan Belcher. He later tested positive for elevated testosterone levels following the loss to Lombard, which led to a 9 month suspension. Tonight marks his welterweight debut, and he has his hands full against a strong wrestler in Mike Pierce.
Pierce's only UFC losses are to Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, and Johny Hendricks, of which two of those fights were split decisions. He's proven to be a handful for some of the best 170ers in the world whilst proving that he is a class above the rest of the gatekeepers and lower tier fighters. His lack of finishes and perceived "boring" style has prevented him from more main card appearances, but he's got one now after his 2nd round TKO of David Mitchell at UFC 162.
Assuncao came over from the WEC as a featherweight, and his UFC debut ended in a 1st round KO loss to Erik Koch. His move to bantamweight has been a great one, as he's 4-0 in the division with wins over Vaughan Lee, Issei Tamura, Johnny Eduardo, and Mike Easton. The BJJ black belt even beat Easton having spent the majority of the fight with a broken arm. He is currently ranked as the number 6 bantamweight in the UFC's roster.
Dillashaw was knocked out by John Dodson in the TUF 14 finale, but that's his only blemish of what has been a stellar UFC career thus far. The Team Alpha Male product has won his last 4 fights, including back-to-back TKO wins over Hugo Viana and Issei Tamura. The Viana win moved him up to #9 in the UFC bantamweight rankings, and his path to a title shot will be even closer if he can get his first win over a top 10 opponent.