With every passing fight, it is becoming abundantly clear that Demian Maia is one of the top contenders in the UFC’s middleweight division. The Brazilian will battle it out with Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 to determine who is behind Dan Henderson for a shot at Anderson Silva’s title.
“The other guys I’ve faced I consider very tough, excellent fighters, and he’s another one, but, for sure he’s the toughest of them. He’s a complete fighter and very aggressive,” Maia said of his dangerous opponent.
Maia holds a perfect 10-0 record, and most importantly has finished all but one of his opponents before the fight’s final bell. His latest victim was former WEC middleweight top contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 95. It took Maia less than three minutes to submit the Team Quest fighter in the 1stRound of their battle.
And the secret to his success?
“I believe in what I do and train,” stated Maia. “A lot of guys train, but don’t believe it’ll work, that they’ll have to fight [standing], but I believe that I’ll get [in the Octagon] to do my jiu-jitsu, not to fight standing. Of course I’m ready to strike, but, if [I don’t] need to strike and do a classic jiu-jitsu, it’s better.”
The grappling genius was hoping to get his crack at the crown after his last W, however the organization propelled Henderson into the top contender spot after they inked Vitor Belfot to a deal. Although he’s disappointed that his number wasn’t called this time, Maia knows his time will come.
“Of course I wanted the belt, but if it’s not the time, it’ll come,” said Maia. “This guy, Nate, is high level and I’m there to test myself against the best, not only get there, win a belt and later lose it. I want to get mature and prove that I can have the belt. To me, this is a fight that, winning it, I’ll be closer of what a champion needs to be.”
Behind lightweight champ BJ Penn, Maia is the best Jitz competitor turned mixed martial artist. However, Penn was able to take his career to the next level when he transcended into a superior all-around MMA fighter.
It is up to Maia to see if he can make that same transition into greatness, and the time is now.