So, Demian Maia has finally got his shot at the UFC Welterweight crown. On July 29 2017 he goes toe-to-toe with current champion Tyron Woodley. It’s short notice, but it’s a fight Maia has waited a long time for. Maia is often called the “last pure grappler” in the UFC because of his takedown and submission based style.
The last time Maia fought for a title was in Middleweight in 2010 when the flamboyant Anderson Silva kept him at bay long enough to win a decision victory against him. Following his defeat Maia has changed weight class to Welterweight and returned to his grappling roots with a takedown and submission style that has seen him win all of his last 7 fights and earned him a title shot.
Maia is a 3 times Brazilian world cup champion, with notable wins in BJJ over Ronaldo Sousa, Romulo Barral and Rafael Lovato. Here’s a match against Ronaldo Sousa from 2007:
And here he is training with his friend and sparring partner Marcelo Garcia:
Here’s the section on Demian Maia from the “Arte Sauve” documentary:
There’s also a Demian Maia seminar on YouTube:
In every fight since he returned to his grappling roots Maia has stuck to a simple strategy: Get a takedown (usually a single leg), get on top, pass the guard forcing them to give up the back, then take the back and finish with a rear naked choke. Even if he doesn’t get the submission he ends up dominating each round, so wins on points.
Simple doesn’t means easy, of course. Maia’s MMA style may be basic and predictable, but it’s totally unstoppable. If what he was doing was easy then everybody would be doing it. The genius of Maia is that his opponent’s know exactly what he’s going to do, but seem unable to stop him. He also beats people without hurting them too much, which he feels is a kinder way to get the job done in the octagon.
His slow-burn approach to fighting doesn’t win him many fans in MMA outside of jiujitsu circles, but for people in the know, every fight of his is an absolute clinic in how to apply jiujitsu against an opponent who can punch and kick back.
Here you can see him employ this simple strategy against Jorge Masvidal:
His fight with another BJJ black belt, Gunnar Nelson, contained some of the most exciting Jiujitsu exchanges seen in the UFC, particularly the first round. Sadly it’s not available on YouTube. But perhaps his most perfect performance in terms of a perfectly executed strategy was agait Carlos Condit who he effortlessly destroyed in the first round:
Here’s a couple of highlight clips of him working his magic in MMA:
To understand Maia’s unique style of MMA jiujitsu, take a look at the BJJ Scout breakdowns:
And finally, don’t miss the most extensive breakdown of Maia’s Jiujitsu you’ll ever read: Gambledub’s Maia Study here.