You know how broken-down, piece-of-shit houses are often advertised as “handyman’s specials“? Well, tomorrow’s UFC Fight Night 29 event in Barueri is a “grappler’s wet dream,” headlined by two welterweights known for bringing it to the mat and keeping it there for AS LONG AS IT TAKES!!! (Just trying to stay positive here, guys.) Non-Baruerians can watch the action on FOX Sports 1, and we’ll be livebogging the main card starting at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.
To keep you current on all the important themes surrounding “Maia vs. Shields,” it’s time for CagePotato founding editor Ben Goldstein and staff writer Seth Falvo to engage in some spirited debate. So how will the main event play out? What’s the best way to make money off the fights? Which fighter on the card is talented enough to be a future Bellator tournament semi-finalist? And which funny GIF will show up at the end of this post? Read on, and please toss your own opinions in the comments section.
BG: Not all boring grapplers are the same. There can be subtle differences between boring grapplers. Jon Fitch is a guy whose single-minded focus is to take you down and lay on you until the fight ends. Jake Shields will take you down and try to submit you first, and if that’s not working out, then he’ll lay on you until the fight ends.
Here’s another difference — Fitch seems to lose a couple belt-ranks when his opponent manages to scramble onto his back. (Maia and BJ Penn were both able to hang out in back control for long stretches against Fitch, who defended himself well against rear-naked chokes, but was otherwise stuck in position.) Shields tends to be a little more active on the mat than Fitch both offensively and defensively, and unlike Fitch, Jake Shields has never been submitted in his entire career.
I see two possible outcomes here: 1) Maia and Shields recognize each other’s grappling abilities, and proceed to put on the sloppiest, stupidest kickboxing match in recent UFC history. 2) Shields tries to play jiu-jitsu with Maia, and it doesn’t work out too well for him. Either way, I’ve got the Brazilian by decision. Now would that firmly establish Maia as a title threat? Maybe not. Keep in mind that all of Maia’s opponents during his UFC welterweight run have been wrestlers. Give him the winner of UFC 167’s Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald bout after this one, and we’ll see how he handles himself in the deep end of the pool, against guys with the power to turn him upside-down.
SF: Glad to see I’m not the only person around here who has drank more than enough of the Demian Maia Kool-Aid; I’m already sold on him as a legitimate contender. But are we seriously writing off Jake Shields this easily?
I’m not about to write that Jake Shields has great striking or anything, but for a one-dimensional grappler, his Muay Thai is better than it has any business being. Yeah, I know — that’s like writing that The Wrestling Boot Band weren’t that terrible or that Pepsi Jazz was sort-of drinkable — but I’m not ready to say the same thing about Maia. Point being, if this fight stays on the feet, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Jake Shields walk away victorious. And, who knows, Jake may even violate a CagePotato Ban and win by bringing back the old Jake Shields tomorrow night. Anything can happen in a cage fight, bro.
Looking at the gambling odds for this event, what’s the single smartest wager you could make?
BG: Smartest wager? Buddy, you’re talking to the wrong guy. I’m a sucker for ridiculous underdogs, and my lifetime success rate is currently hovering right above 0%. So before we get into “smart” bets, let me just point out that Dong Hyun Kim is a +220 underdog against Erick Silva, who is a strong favorite here because he’s handsome, I guess? Seriously, DHK wrestle-fuck all day.
Now, if you’re looking for a bet that’s fiscally sound but feels risky enough to give you that adrenaline rush of actual, degenerate gambling, I like to go with the old two-fight parlay: Pick two favorites who you feel comfortable with, and stack ‘em together. Give me TJ Dillashaw from the currently-unstoppable Team Alpha Male crew, who’s sitting at -225 against Raphael Assuncao, and the aforementioned Demian Maia, who’s listed around -270. A $10 parlay bet at BetUS returns $9.23 in profit if they both win — damn-near even money for a damn-near sure thing.
SF: What lovely, practical advice you’ve just given out, Ben. Now, if you’re done being intelligent and placing sensible bets, your majesty, I have a mortgage payment that I’d like to throw away on grown men punching each other.
Jake Shields is just underrated enough to be an attractive option at +210, so I’ll gladly be a total contrarian asshole and include him in my parlay, thank you very much. The other guy in my parlay? Allan freakin’ Patrick. I’ve never seen him fight before, but he’s undefeated, he’s Brazilian, and his opponent can best be described as “Some Guy, whatever, fuck you.” All of this makes him the perfect, yet incredibly rare combination of “totally safe bet” and “complete shot in the dark.” The $32.92 that my ten bucks would make off of this parlay certainly helps his case, too. Hell, something tells me that I’d have a crippling gambling addiction if I didn’t place my next few paychecks on this…
Which fighter is most likely to show up in Bellator after this event?
SF: My gut instinct is to take the easy route, pick Thiago Silva, and throw in a semi-related GIF at some point, as is tradition. I’m sure if I spent some time researching statistics or finding out if Facebook preliminaries are still a thing, I’d have a different opinion. But I didn’t earn the reputation of “talentless hack” by doing that stuff, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, so Thiago Silva it is
Silva is dangerously deep into Fitch/Okami territory. He’s talented enough to be a perennial “Top 10″ guy, but not enough to actually hold a belt — and he comes with a much heftier price tag than the other gatekeepers on the roster. Sure, his fan-friendly style would be an incentive to keep him around, if it weren’t for how disturbingly often the guy shoots himself in the foot (figuratively speaking [for now]). Another loss/failed drug test for Thiago Silva, and he may very well find himself under the bright lights of Viacom MMA.
BG: You’re assuming that Thiago Silva will lose to Matt Hamill, a guy with very little to offer in the year 2013, who unwisely came out of a very wise retirement and who hasn’t looked impressive since he KO’d Mark Munoz four and a half years ago. I say Silva wins that fight, so screw you.
Let’s be real: Fabio Maldonado vs. Joey Beltran will decide the unofficial winner of the Season Nine Bellator Light-Heavyweight Tournament. It’s perfect. They’re both sluggers with losing records in the UFC. You’ve heard of them, but you don’t particularly care about them. One of them is a disgraced steroid cheat. And Bellator’s light-heavyweight division is even shallower than the rest of their shallow divisions, so they could use the warm bodies.
Maldonado vs. Beltran is a classic matchup of a technical boxer vs. a let-me-bang-bro brawler, and I see “The Mexicutioner” losing a unanimous decision after being picked apart over three rounds. He will be fired by the UFC on Monday morning, and signed by Bellator on Wednesday. He will eventually be TKO’d by Attila Vegh, then test positive for steroids again and retire for three months before showing up in XARM. Hillary Clinton wins the 2016 presidential election, but it’s a close one. There’s a recount, and hostilities between the two major U.S. political parties grow even deeper and more overt. A civil war breaks out. The nuclear silos in Iowa self-destruct. Eventually, what’s left of the United States falls under the control of a shadowy dictator known only as “The Beekeeper.” Dana White dies peacefully in his sleep at the age of 112.
Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill…is this matchup depressing to anybody else, or is it just me?
SF: That GIF I owe you guys? Yeah, I figured I’d sit on it until I was asked a question that made me feel completely empty inside. So, you know…
BG: Basically, we’ve got a stoner and a deaf retiree trying to beat the shit out of each other in front of a bunch of unwashed foreigners. I know it sounds like the premise of a new Seth MacFarlane sitcom, but this is an actual UFC main card fight. Play us off, Morgan…