It was expected to a be a slug fest at UFC Fight Night 29 between Fabio Maldonado and Joey Beltran, but while the bout had plenty of action, it ended in controversy as the Brazilian took a split decision despite being largely controlled for much of the bout.
"He thinks he won, but when he watches it again he’ll realize he’s crazy. I know he usually likes to slow down the pace to explode in the end, so I had to watch my pace too. I had a few opportunities to finish it but I was always mindful of that. The only indecision for me is whether I won just 2 or all 3 rounds. I wish I had thrown more punches, boxed more, and hadn’t stayed so much against the fence. I did damage there too, but I know the judges sometimes see the fence as a sign of control. He’s a tough guy, with a tough chin," Maldonado said after the fight.
After an early exchange of jabs, Beltran started out the first round with an attempted single leg against the cage, but couldn't get it. An inadvertent groin strike with punches from Beltran briefly halted the action, but Beltran went right back to work and scored a hard shot as he attempted more takedown attempts. As the two jockeyed along the fence, both fighters traded hard shots of their own. While there was a brief guillotine attempt from Maldonado, the round ended there.
Beltran went back to pressuring in the second frame, although more striking in the middle of the frame before Beltran pressred him back into the fence. Maldonado baited Beltran to hit him and even nailed the American with an uppercut, but was content to leave his back along the cage. Over time, the two seemed content to trade shots in the middle of the cage with Maldonado scoring on the jab and body shots while Beltran landed winging hooks.
As the third frame opened, Beltran went back to landing hard hooks while Maldonado was content to sit on his boxing, working behind the jab. Beltran eventually forced Maldonado's back to the fence, but referee Mario Yamasaki restarted the action in the center of the cage after a period of relative inactivity. After another low punch from Maldonado, the bout as briefly halted and restarted. Beltran then muscled the Brazilian into the fence where was able to secure a takedown and land knees to Maldonado's body before the frame ended.
The judges scored the contest 29-28 Beltran, 29-28 Maldonado, 29-28 Fabio Maldonado, surprising many watching the contest. Maldonado moves to 20-6 in professional MMA while Beltran slides to 14-9 with one no-contest.
“I think I won first and third rounds, and I believed that taking him down and beating him up for two minutes in the third round was enough. He was pretty good, but once I had him on the fence I felt I had success and I busted him up, but I don’t know. It’s all good, it’s just too much work to have the judges do this to you. At the end of the day it’s my fault for leaving it to them," Beltran said after the fight.