Fabio Maldonado extended his winning streak to two fights with a split decision victory over “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran, who was returning from a nine-month suspension, at UFC Fight Night 29 from Barueri, Brazil, on Wednesday night.
Beltran, whose win over Ivor Pokrajac was declared a no contest in December 2012 after testing positive for nandrolone, controlled the opening round on the front foot. With Maldonado backed against the cage, Beltran mixed up his shots with the Brazilian trying to work the body of Beltran from the clinch. Beltran landed a takedown in the final seconds of the round and a flurry of punches off the break.
Maldonado employed the jabbing and moving tactics to start round two, frequently changing levels. Maldonado landed a big uppercut off the cage before Beltran landed three big elbows followed by a knee to the body of the home country fighter. Maldonado turned it on late in round as Beltran began to tire with the Brazilian utilizing his boxing to great effect.
The fight seemed to be in the balance as they entered the final frame and Beltran had Maldonado backed against cage, but they both were separated after a spell of inactivity. Beltran started to let his hands go and was successful in backing Maldonado up. Maldonado, however, started working the body shots and caught Beltran with a low blow. On the restart, Beltran backed Maldonado against the cage and got the takedown landing ground strikes to the final bell.
While it seemed that Beltran might be awarded the win, the judges scored it a split decision in the Brazilian’s favor (29-28 Beltran, 29-28 Maldonado, 29-28 Maldonado).
“I don’t think I came as close as I wanted to finishing the fight, but I do feel a lot better than in my last fight,” Maldonado said. “I don’t know how one of the judges gave it to Beltran.”
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