Maia: The best you never heard of
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
Demian Maia is quite possibly the best middleweight you’ve never heard of.
Boasting and impressive 10-0 record, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has earned a reputation in the Octagon for turning his adversaries into human pretzels. Maia made his UFC debut at UFC 77: Hostile Territory, submitting Ryan Jensen via rear naked choke in the first round. Ed Herman and Jason MacDonald became Maia’s next victims, falling to a triangle choke and a rear naked choke respectively. The three submissions cemented Maia’s place in the UFC history books as he became the first fighter to garner three “Submission of the Night” honors in a row.
Maia’s big break came late last year at UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar. Originally dubbed as the biggest UFC card in history, Maia came through in a major way, extending his Octagon winning streak to four fights, submitting Nate Quarry at 2:13 in the opening round.
For a guy who makes a living beating people up and—as of late—choking them out, Maia takes a humane approach to fighting and finishing opponents. According to his UFC page, Maia says his favorite technique is to “submit my opponent without him hurting me or me hurting him.” It’s the philosophy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu he explained to MMA Fanhouse recently. “You control your opponent. You put him down. You get the submission. But you're not going to hurt your opponent, you give him the decision to say he wants to stop. I think it's a nicer way to win than a knockout.”
To date, none of Maia’s victories have come from strikes and his jiu-jitsu and grappling accomplishments all but ensure that Maia may not have to knock out an opponent for a long time to come. In 2007, Maia took top honors at the highly touted Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission wrestling tournament. He placed second at the tournament in 2005 and is also the owner of several Jiu-Jitsu world championships. With a decorated record on the mat before entering the Octagon, it’s no wonder that Maia is looking to ride his skills to a middleweight championship.
“I believe my Jiu-Jitsu can make me a champion,” he told Fight Hype earlier this month.
After his November victory over Nate Quarry, many in the press believed Maia would get a crack at the man many believe to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world: Anderson “The Spider” Silva. However, despite stellar performances in the Octagon, UFC president Dana White ultimately gave the next title shot to Thales Leites and offered Maia a fight against Team Quest member Chael Sonnen this Saturday at UFC 95.
"Joe Silva and I were talking about it, and we're making some moves right now in the 185-pound division. We're thinking about [Maia]. We think very highly of him,” White said at the UFC 91 post fight press conference.
“I would like to see Demian fight a couple more fights before he fights Anderson Silva,” White later added.
In Sonnen, Maia will encounter a talented wrestler who can go the distance or finish a fight by pounding out an opponent. “He’s maybe the toughest that I’ve fought against,” Maia said of Sonnen. “He’s a very good wrestler that works on points very well. When he thinks he can win by points, he does. He’s a very good fighter.”
While Maia is quick to praise Sonnen, there is one glaring weakness in the wrestler’s game that Maia may attempt to exploit. Six of Sonnen’s nine professional losses have come by submission, which plays right in the Jiu-Jitsu practitioner’s hands.
“I think I can get him to make a mistake,” Maia added.