After a stunning defeat of Carlos Condit this past weekend, UFC welterweight contender Demian Maia finds himself in quite the conundrum. Should he wait for a title shot or should he continue to compete and risk getting something he has basically already earned?
In defeating Condit, Maia extended his current win streak to six bouts. Since dropping down to welterweight, he is 9-2. In those two defeats, one could argue he won the decision vs. Jake Shields, and gave Rory MacDonald fits in the first round of their bouts. But they are defeats, mind you … the Shields loss in 2013 and the MacDonald loss in early 2014. Since then, it’s been Dominance 101 for the Brazilian.
As staggering and awe inspiring as some of his finishes have been, what truly stands out is a stat that separates him from probably every body in MMA today … if not in history. In his last four bouts, Maia has absorbed a total of 13 strikes. That is mind boggling. Considering in those four bouts he has competed against Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson, Matt Brown and Carlos Condit, that makes it even more impressive to say the least.
Three of those four are high pressure fighters - the push the pace and punish their opponents with leather and shin bones. But Maia has showcased the sheer perfection and essence of BJJ. His mastery is figuratively second to none. He avoids getting hit, takes his opponents down, controls them, then proceeds to work for a dominant position. From there, his worst enemy has been the clock … but when he has enough time, it’s as if the submission is inevitable.
In his bout vs. Magny, not too many people were giving him credit for the rear naked choke finish. It was more that Magny wasn’t good enough on the ground. Versus Nelson, the torch was supposed to have been passed from old-school to new-school but Maia wasn’t having it. Then against Brown, he was expected to be punished for signing on the dotted line but instead, he tapped the contender out in the third round. His reward: “The Natural Born Killer”.
In this bout, Maia was the underdog. The betting lines forecasted a loss for Demian and a (T)KO victory by Condit. A submission victory by Maia was set at 5 - 1 … basically, not going to happen. Well, he did do it and did so in less than two minutes.
So now he finds himself in an interesting position. In most eyes, the victory over NBK has earned Maia a title shot. But there are two stumbling blocks standing in his way. The first is a “Wonderboy” while the second is an MMA icon.
While anything can happen in MMA, both inside and outside of the octagon, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson will be next in line to take on UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley. No date has been set for that fight so the clock is ticking.
Woodley is also angling for a money fight … not just a title defense. Well, the money fight is either Nick Diaz ( slim chance of that happening ) or Georges St-Pierre, rumoured to making his return in December at the UFC’s return to Toronto, Ontario. While most may not agree that GSP deserves a title shot, others will make the argument that it’s simply a no-brainer.
Maia has expressed a desire to “wait” for his title shot, but it could be a long wait. Provided he has the financial stability (and I’m talking major money here) to wait it out, I would not blame him for waiting. But it’s a risk and it’s not something I see him doing.
What I do see him doing is one of two things: the first, is taking another fight if GSP does not get the title shot. That bout could be versus Georges, the aforementioned Diaz, former champion Robbie Lawler or perhaps Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
The other option could be a continuation of Maia’s hot streak with a sprinkle of good luck. Once the Woodley vs. Thompson bout is announced, Maia should go into a self-imposed training camp and be ready to step in as a replacement should one of the two fighters get injured. And who knows … it could be a title shot vs. Woodley or perhaps an interim title bout vs. Thompson.
Either way, Maia has many options to consider and with some help from the MMA Gods, could find himself in the octagon with a title shot or a strategic bout that will put him one more victory away from a near guaranteed second title shot with the Ultimate Fighting Championship.