The main event of UFC Fight Night 29 was billed as a potentially great grappling battle. It turned out to be exactly that for most of the fight. Jake Shields and Demian Maia took it to each other for a full 25 minutes. While the fight was never close to being finished, it featured some fascinating action on the octagon floor. In the end, Shields pulled out a razor-thin split decision by taking the fifth round. The scores were 48-47, 47-48, and 48-47.
Shields threw some kicks early in round one and Maia shot right in. Maia scored with a brilliant inside trip. Maia worked to pass Jake's guard against the cage, but Shields got back up. Then they went right back down. Shields scooted up, but Maia took his back. Shields swung him off though and took top position. He controlled the rest of the round from there.
Both men were looking for an immediate takedown in the second, and it was Jake that ended up on top. He dropped a few short elbows but couldn't pass Maia's guard. Maia briefly looked for a triangle but had no room against the cage. Shields controlled position for the rest of the round while Maia blocked every attempt to pass.
Round three actually saw some action on the feet. Shields worked his usual game with leg kicks and short punches while Maia looked for a big punch. Shields stopped a takedown but ate a nice punch. Maia dragged Shields down and took his back, but Shields hit a beautiful reversal. The crowd was booing, but Shields was doing an excellent job on top while actively looking to pass.
After some early kicking in the fourth, Jake shot in all the way across the cage for a takedown. Maia resisted it though and he looked for his own trip takedown against the cage. Almost half the round went by with them battling before the ref separated them. Shields scored with a head kick and had a takedown stuffed. Shields looked a bit gassed and Maia took him down. He couldn't get much going and the ref ordered a pretty lame standup after 45 seconds or so.
Shields got started quickly with his kicking in the final round but ate a right from Maia. Shields was the more tired of the two and had a couple of takedowns stuffed. Maia couldn't take advantage in the clinch either though, and Shields was landing more strikes in the standup (even if there wasn't much on them). Maia came back with a solid left. Shields tried for another takedown but Maia kept stuffing them. The ref separated them with 30 seconds to go. Maia scored with four lefts, Shields with as many kicks.