A six fight win streak with a throwback style full of nostalgia for every self professed ‘Old School’ or ‘Hardcore’ Fan to a similarly weighed Brazilian who made grown men look like mere children on the ground. Demian Maia (24-6, 18-6 in the UFC) very much seems like a fighter lost in history with his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu heavy style and looking at his first half dozen fights in the UFC this is very much the case. The then Middleweight lived and died by controlling men on the ground, submitting the first 4 UFC fighters he faced. As effective as this style was it fell short to the Highlight Reel capabilities of Nate Marqaurdt who at the time was as dynamic and well rounded as a Middleweight could be.
No one will ever forget the abomination of a fight that was the Main Event of Anderson UFC 112 where being unable to take Silva down Maia found himself chasing a superior counter-striker unwilling to engage. It was this fight that gave birth to “Boxer Maia” perfectly shown in his fight against Mark Munoz where the decorated BJJ Black Belt stood and swung wild strikes and ultimately lost the decision. Since this point Maia has done 3 key things:
1. Used his newfound boxing not to strike but to set up his entry into a range where he can grab his opponent.
2. Vastly improved his wrestling and blended it with his already stellar BJJ.
3. Dropped to Welterweight where he is no longer oversized by powerful wrestlers.
Another fighter who has found new life at 170 is Jorge Masvidal who will fight Demian Maia at UFC 211 in Dallas. Coming up from Lightweight Jorge has some of the best boxing in either division actually displaying the head movement and footwork that are standard defensive practices in the ‘Sweet Science’ that so many MMA adopters refrain from using. Masvidal may be 4-2 in his new division but that record itself needs a second glance. Benson Henderson, Ross Pearson and Donald Cerrone are all lifetime Lightweights even if they have found a mix bag of results at Welterweight they are of comparable size to Masvidal even if he is the superior boxer. This will be the first time Masvidal fights a legitimate Welterweight contender and the first fight in sometime where his opponent will actively being trying to take him down rather than simply striking. Masvidal’s record boasts a fantastic takedown and submission defense against Lightweights and Part Time Welterweights neither of which are Demian Maia. Maia has a better track record against higher ranked Welterweights and has proven again and again not to underestimate him but the Odds have underestimated him again.
Current Odds: Maia +110
Plus money on a fight that could very well see Maia clinch, trip and dominate the smaller man on the ground just like he has done so many times in the past? I’m taking that shot.
Personal Play: 1u Maia +115