When the scores were read, most felt Demian Maia would be given the decision victory at UFC Fight Night 29 Wednesday night.
Instead, it was Jake Shields earning the split decision win, snapping Maia’s three-fight win streak in Sao Paulo.
“The guy is a phenom,” Shields said. “This ranks right up there with fights vs. (Georges St-Pierre) and Dan Henderson.
“He gave me all I could handle and it was a close, close fight.”
Shields earned two judges’ decisions by scores of 48-47, while Maia claimed the other – by a matching 48-47 score.
The bout came down to grappling and effective striking, the strengths of both fighters. It was Shields, though, that pushed the tempo for more of the 25-minute battle.
“Going into the fifth, in my mind it was two rounds apiece,” he said. “I just tried to do more in the stand-up and thought I edged him out there.”
The win moved Shields’ record to 29-6-1, including two straight. He is 3-0 with one no-contest since back-to-back losses in 2011.
Maia (18-5) was competing in Sao Paulo for the first time in his career. He had won his first three fights at welterweight after dropping down from middleweight where he competed for the UFC title.