Demian Maia might be the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu technician in mixed martial arts. Of his 17 professional MMA wins, nine have come by submission and three by TKO. Maia’s MMA career has been interesting – from highlight-reel submissions to boring decision losses and back. Watching his recent quick victories over Dong Hyun Kim “The Korean Stun Gun” and Rick Story in UFC 148 and 153, respectively, inspired me to track down some videos and put together a brief Demian Maia MMA retrospective.
Demain Maia vs Raul Sosa
September 21, 2001. Tournament Tormenta En El Ring, Venezuela
Maia won his first fight in classic “BJJ in MMA” style. In a performance reminiscent of vintage Renzo Gracie, Maia went straight to the clinch, transitioned to back mount, and pounded out a TKO at 0:48 of round one.
Demian Maia vs Lukasz Chlewicki
December 3, 2005. The Cage – Volume 4. Helsinki, Finland
More quick work from Maia. After a few minutes of fighting against the cage and some ground scrambles, Maia hit a nice half guard sweep and transitioned to a brutal armbar for professional MMA win number two.
October 7, 2006. Super Challenge 1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I didn’t find any video of this 83kg tournament, which Demian won by scoring three victories:
vs Vitelmo Kubis Bandeira. Win by RNC at 3:30 of round one.
vs. Gustavo Machado. Wins a two-round decision
vs. Fabio Nascimento. Win by guillotine at 0:35 of round one.
Demian Maia vs. Ryan Stout
May 19, 2007. GFC: Evolution. Columbus, Ohio
Here’s a crappy video of Demian defeating Ryan Stout in under two minutes. He scored a quick takedown, held the top position for a while, ended up on the bottom, and hit a butterfly sweep that somehow injured Stout’s shoulder for the TKO.
Demian Maia vs. Ryan Jensen
October 20, 2007. UFC 77: Hostile Territory. Cincinnati, Ohio
I didn’t find a video of Demian Maia’s UFC debut, but I do know that he sunk a rear naked choke at 2:40 of round one to earn Submission of the Night.
Demian Maia vs. Ed Herman
April 19, 2008. UFC 83: Serra vs. St-Pierre II. Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I talked about this one in my article about some of the Jiu-Jitsu Vortex’s favourite MMA submissions. Demian put on a BJJ showcase for a round and a half, including a ridiculous sequence from the omoplata, before putting Herman to sleep with a mounted triangle. Again, Submission of the Night.
Demian Maia vs. Jason MacDonald
August 9, 2008. UFC 87: Seek and Destroy. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Here we see Demian pull guard and get close to a triangle from guard at the end of round one. To Jason MacDonald’s credit, he almost took Maia the distance, but couldn’t fend off the rear naked choke halfway through round three. Maia had set himself a ridiculous pace at this point – three UFC fights, three Submission of the Night awards.
Demian Maia vs. Nate Quarry
November 15, 2008. UFC 91: Couture vs Lesnar. Las Vegas, Nevada
More textbook Brazilian jiu-jitsu from the old school: half guard dragdown to mount, transition to back, sink rear naked choke at 2:13 of round one.
Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen
February 21, 2009. UFC 95: Sanchez vs Stevenson. London, England
Maia’s most spectacular and impressive win came against the inimitable Chael Sonnen. He started with his tried-and-true “straight to clinch” approach before hitting a beautiful lateral drop takedown and transitioning immediately to a triangle choke for the win at 2:37 of round one. Fourth Submission of the Night in five fights.
Highlight reel of Demian Maia’s fights against Ed Herman, Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry, and Chael Sonnen:
Demian Maia vs. Nate Marquardt
August 29, 2009. UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira. Portland, Oregon
All streaks end, and Demian’s did so in spectacular fashion as he ran headfirst into Nate Marquart’s fist at 0:21 of round one. It was a knockout worthy of a Popeye cartoon. Props to Marquardt for not landing that follow-up shot to the back of Maia’s head.
Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs. Dan Miller
February 6, 2010.UFC 109: Relentless. Las Vegas, Nevada
The bout against Dan Miller was a major departure for Maia being that it was his first UFC fight to go the distance. Part way through round one, Maia seemed to get tired of Miller’s takedown defense and decided to give his standup a go for the next round and a half. It wasn’t pretty. Even Joe Rogan could be heard comparing round two to “amateur kickboxing”. Things went back to normal in round three with Maia clinching, scoring the takedown, and holding ground control to the bell for the decision win.
Dan Miller vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs. Anderson Silva for UFC Middleweight Championship
April 10, 2010. UFC 112: Invincible. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
With Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen injured, Demian Maia took the corner opposite Anderson Silva for a very strange title fight. Throughout the fight Anderson seemed to be playing with Maia like Maia played with Ed Herman, albeit in a much more bizarre fashion. Demian’s takedown attempts and ball-on-a-chain overhand left were ineffective against Silva, who gesticulated wildly and clowned around while chopping at Maia’s legs and lumping up his face. By the end of the fight the crowd was chanting for Maia, who lost the decision.
Looking on the bright side for Maia, Silva is known as a finisher – of his 33 wins (16 in UFC), only five (two in UFC) have gone to a decision.
Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda
August 28, 2010. UFC 118: Edgar vs Penn II. Boston, Massachusetts
Similar to the Dan Miller fight, but with more groundtime. Maia controled the fight on the ground and against the fence for the unanimous decision win.
Demian Maia vs Kendall Grove
December 4, 2010. The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck Finale. Las Vegas, Nevada
Again, this fight was decided by Maia’s takedowns and ground control. Demian did try to dabble in standup during round three, which didn’t go his way, but it was OK because his work in the first two rounds earned him the decision.
Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz
June 11, 2011.UFC 131: dos Santos vs Carwin. Vancouver, British Columbia
Internet BJJ fixture Ryron Gracie cornered Demian’s opponent, Mark Munoz, in this fight, which took place right here in the Jiu-Jitsu Vortex’s backyard. Maia looked surprisingly good on his feet, winning the first round, before Munoz shut down his game. Maia’s shots weren’t working and he failed to get anything going on the ground, except for a crucifix attempt in round three. Munoz won by split decision.
Mark Munoz vs. Demian Maia fight video
Gracie Breakdown of Maia-Munoz
Demian Maia vs Jorge Santiago
October 8, 2011. UFC 136: Edgar vs Maynard III. Houston, Texas
Another stage in the evolution of “Demian Maia: MMA kickboxer”. He was getting more confident, but also more careless. And that left haymaker was still visible from space. Maia spent three rounds directing the action but was having a doozy of a time trying pass Santiago’s guard. The fourth minute of round three saw him get to side control, to north-south, to side control, before being sucked back into Santiago’s half guard and landing elbows to the bell for the decision victory.
Jorge Santiago vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs Chris Weidman
January 28, 2012. UFC of Fox: Evans vs. Davis. Chicago, Illinois
This was an ugly kickboxing fight. Demian’s right hand pawing and arcing overhand left were as predictable as the sunset. Weidman scored takedowns in all three rounds and tried a guillotine in round two, but both fighters seemed exhausted (though not as bad as Tank Abbot vs. Oleg Taktarov that time up in the mountains of Wyoming). The crowd booed both fighters as Weidman took the decision.
Chris Weidman vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs. Dong Hyun Kim
July 7, 2012. UFC 148: Silva vs Sonnen. Las Vegas, Nevada
Demian moved down to 170 pounds for his fight against “The Korean Stun Gun”, who was on somewhat of a tear. Overheard in my friend’s living room during the preamble to the fight:
“Kim looks ridiculously confident. I’m afraid to watch.”
“He looks like the North Korean nemesis from a Hollywood Cold War movie.”
But it was back to vintage Demian Maia, who went immediately to the clinch and moved to the back. Kim appeared to try to throw Maia off balance with an uchimata-type motion, but Maia caught a ride, hooked Kim’s leg with his left, and draged the whole mess to the mat, where Kim suffered a rib injury and couldn’t continue. A 47-second TKO from a takedown? I have judo roots, so I can’t help but love that, even though it was somewhat bittersweet because Yoon Heo, a good friend of Dynamic MMA, was cornering Kim during this fight.
It’s interesting to note that this was an effective takedown in that it disabled Maia’s opponent, but because they landed face down, it wouldn’t have earned many props in sport judo circles (maybe a koka at best?)
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia fight video
Demian Maia vs Rick Story
October 13, 2012. UFC 153: Silva vs Bonnar. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Rick Story neck crank was Maia’s most disturbing submission since his armbar vs Lukasz Chlewicki in 2005. Again reverting to his BJJ roots, Maia clinched right away and took control. He took Story down with some judo-style footsweeps, got back mount, started a rear naked choke, and switched to a neck crank that caused twin jets of blood to shoot out of Story’s nostrils. A terrifying 2 1/2-minute victory.
Rick Story vs. Demian Maia fight video
Hey Demian Maia, Stay Awesome
Well that was a lot longer than intended, but was fun to put together. If you’re still here, thanks for your stamina. The message I took home from re-watching all these fights is that Demian Maia seems to have brought his MMA game full circle. After several fights spent experimenting with standup, he approached his last two fights with the same clinch, takedown, control, and/or submit pattern as the early fights. His takedowns aren’t judo-spectacular, but they’re brutally effective. And once he gets his opponents on the ground, things start to look grim in a hurry. It’s archetypal Brazilian jiu-jitsu at it’s most effective. All hail the Demian Maia submission renaissance!