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Demian Maia – Craftsman

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Demian Maia over the years has merged himself as one of the greatest grapplers and Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the world today.

Today Demian is highly respected in the grappling world. Hosting seminars all over the world. Even creating his own academy in Brazil, and trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation. A five-time Jiu-Jitsu world champion, DCC World Submission Wrestling Champion. He holds the most wins for a Brazilian inside the UFC. Let’s take a look back at the career so far of the Brazilian.

As Maia was a child his first encounter with martial arts came in the form of Judo. As he progressed older into his teens he opened up his options studying Karate and Kung Fu. He was then introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in his late teens.

Early Days

The first taste of mixed martial arts competition for Maia came in 2001, competing on the Venezuela regional scene and taking his first professional win back to Brazil by TKO in just 48 seconds. Maia then took a four year lay off and returned with a bout in Finland seeing the Brazilian go 2-0. As he continued to climb up the ladder, the next challenge was a tournament in his home country seeing Maia win three fights in one night to be crowned the 2007 Super Challenge Champion. Ryan Stout was next in line before the UFC came calling. The matchup ended due to an injury from Stout with Maia being victorious. Finally, with an undefeated record of 6-0 and the UFC was impressed.

UFC

Maia entered the UFC with nothing to lose and the opportunity to showcase his skill-set amongst the best in the world. No surprise to anyone, that’s exactly what he did. Five back to back wins in the UFC including a win over Chael Sonnen cemented him as a threat to all competitors in the division. All good things must come to an end, unfortunately. The first loss came at the hands of Nate Marquardt at UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira. Maia bounced back 6 months later with a win over Dan Miller.

The next test came at the hands of the great Anderson Silva. Silva was riding an 11 fight winning streak before the meeting with Maia so it was always a tough task in hand. The bout was awarded in Silva’s favor via unanimous decision although Maia took a lot away from this matchup and turned it into a positive result.

As the years passed by Maia secured wins over Jorge Santiago, Dong Hyun Kim, and Jon Fitch and dropping close losses to Chris Weidman, Jake Shields, and Rory MacDonald. One thing that stands out with the Jiu-Jitsu specialist, he is never one to shy away from a challenge. He truly wants to compete and test his skills against the best fighters on the planet.

Aug 27, 2016; Vancouver, BC, Canada; Demain Maia (red gloves) reacts to fight against Carlos Condit (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The greatest streak of Maia’s career so far started in 2014. Where he climbed the ladder and earned himself a title shot against Tyron Woodley. Victories over tough opponents in Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson, Carlos Condit, and Jorge Masvidal saw the Brazilian take a co-main event slot at UFC 214. The bout was a chess match between two highly-rated guys with the judges favoring the decision in Woodley’s way.

After the defeat given by the champion, Maia was thrown straight back in the deep end. Taking on a relentless Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. This was the first time in the Brazilian’s career that he had been defeated three times on the bounce. As always, Maia returned to action and showed up to fight again. Wins over Lyman Good and Anthony Rocco Martin set up a fan-favorite fight with Ben Askren. Askren was considered the best wrestler in the sport and Maia considered to be the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter. It was a matchup that intrigued fight fans from all over the world and left heads curious. Although the fight did see some stand up with both guys willing to trade. Maia submitted Ben Askren in the third round via rear-naked choke. In turn, earning him one of the greatest wins of his career.

We last saw Maia in the octagon last month when he fell victim to Gilbert Burns in round number one. The 38 fight veteran has had an unbelievable career always fighting the best of the best. I believe we will see Maia compete a couple more times before he closes and end his career. Maia for me will go down as the greatest grappler the UFC has seen, not only that. His willingness to promote and teach others Jiu-Jitsu and pass on his mountain of knowledge.

Interview

You’re considered the greatest grappler to ever grace the UFC. Can you remember the first time you were introduced to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu? How did that make you feel and what was the reason behind you first starting BJJ?

Maia – “I was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when I was a kid. I was actually a teenager when I went to see a Vale Tudo fight, which is now known by MMA. In Sau Paulo, it was 1991 and the BJJ guys fought some guys from Kickboxing and kung fu and they won all their fights. Right away I fell in love with the efficiency of the art and how smart and intelligent the process of the techniques was.”

You hold some wins over great names in our sport. For you personally what’s the greatest win/moment for you in the sport?

Maia – “I think in the UFC, the greatest moment was my victory win v Ben Askren because everything that was involved with that bout. The two greatest grapplers. Ben being an Olympic wrestler and national champion making him one of the greatest wrestlers in the United States. My team and I knew when he goes to fight he will represent his style and I knew it’s a fight were a guy wouldn’t run away. Ben would use his grappling skills and he could win because he knows how to deal with a good jiu-jitsu fighter. Everything that we did in the training and everything that wee thought about we made sure this was executed in the drills on the lead up the fight.”

In your 38 professional fights, which name has given you the toughest fight which stands out?

Maia – “I think one of my toughest fights is my bout with Anderson Silva. It is a fight I’m proud of because it was the first time I felt I could be knocked out and I never felt like that. I’ve been knocked out two times in my life but it was more like a knockdown I was never really knocked unconscious. In terms of the fight, when this fight started with Anderson I really couldn’t find my distance and I said to myself, “man maybe this guy is going to knock me out”. Even with my eye hurt, I was able to overcome everything. I couldn’t see well from one of my eyes and I started to fight better at the end of the third round and present myself much better also.

After fighting’s done and it’s time to move on, what’s the plans for your future? Are you looking to stay in the industry and adapt into a coaching role?

Maia – “I don’t know about being a coach, maybe because I like to teach. I’m much more into spending time with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and getting the sport to a broader audience and showing it to as many people as I can. I think that’s more than likely my idea. I’m starting my own affiliation program and my academy in Brazil and the seminars that I’ve been doing for many years around the world and now I’m really changing to do more of that. I also now have a YouTube channel I just started a month ago. One channel is in Brazilian and one is in English so I really think it’ll be a nice thing that I will like to do and help me with the project of promoting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

What does it mean to you when you see up and coming fighters and fellow competitors say they look up to you and you’ve been their inspiration in training and growing as a martial artist, that must give you a great sense of pride?

Maia – “To be praised by all the fighters is something that is really great. I remember when I was in a meeting that the ufc has every couple years or so and the last one was 2017. I remember many fighters came to me to take pictures and to talk to me that they like my style and I think that was very rewarding. It was very nice. One thing for me is to be appreciated by the fans which is great but when you get fighters, your colleagues, who train and know everything you go through and they know and respect you that’s something else. That’s something really great and I’m forever happy with that.”

Be sure to check out Maia’s social media accounts, YouTube channel and academy through the links below.

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