As a BJJ practicioner I have soft spot for good grapplers in MMA. Demian Maia is the perfect example. Maia has won both the Mundials (World championship in BJJ) and the ADCC (the most prestigeous submission wrestling tournament). In grappling he holds victories over elite names such as Ronaldo "Jacare" de Souza, Yushin Okami, Gabriel Gonzaga and Flavio Almeida (brother of Richardo Almeida).
Demian Maia is at the moment 7-0 (5 submissions and 1 KO) in his MMA career and a contender in the UFC middleweight division. Maia made his professional MMA debut in Finland in december 2005 against Lukas Chlewicki and his latest fight was against Ed Herman in UFC April 2008. Maia is scheduled to take on Jason MacDonald at UFC 87 August 9th.
Maia's best quality as a fighter is of course his ground game. He is very technical both on top and from his back. He has excellent positioning skills and that's why he often is able to finish his fights with a choke from the back or an armbar from mount. With Jiu-Jitsu of this caliber he can win many fights, but the higher he goes in the ranking the more he will need to be well rounded. Striking is absolutely essential to be a top contender in MMA today, but in my opinion wrestling should be the first priority for any ground wizard. Wrestling in itself doesn't win many fights, or at least shouldn't, but the ability to control where the fight takes place is invaluable. Too many BJJ experts have lost matches due to the simple fact that they can't get the fight to the ground or by gassing themselves out in the process. Now, I'm sure Maia trains all aspects of MMA and is constantly improving his weaknesses.
The big question you have to ask , when talking about a middleweight contender in the UFC today is of course; Can he beat Anderson Silva? At this moment he doesn't deserve a title shot and would probably get destroyed. On the other hand if he can get up to a handful of fights more before he steps into the octagon with Silva he might have his chance. Maia's upside is his grappling skills. Silva is good on the ground but he has been submitted before. This also ties in to the point I made earlier about wrestling. Maia will never be as good of a striker as Anderson Silva is, but if he can control where the fight takes place, in this case taking it to the ground, the odds will be more favorable.
Here are some of Maia's fights:
Demian Maia vs. Lukas Chlewicki
Demian Maia vs. Ryan Stout
Demian Maia vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" de Souza (BJJ)
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Quinton Jackson Vs. Forrest Griffin
I don't know how good Forrest Griffin really is. Usually he looks a bit sloppy but wins due to great cardio and a giant heart. His win against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was his absolutely best performance of his career. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion and I'm confident he will retain his belt on Saturday. I feel Jackson is more skilled in all aspects of MMA and stronger than Griffin.
Pick: Quinton Jackson by KO/TKO round 2.
Patrick Cote Vs. Ricardo Almeida
Ricardo Almeida is a world class BJJ black belt, while Patrick Cote's strength is his stand up. Need I say, grappler versus striker? Almeida has had one fight, since his comeback from a 4 year layoff, which he won quickly by submission. Cote had a hard time when he first came to UFC, but has now turned his career around and is on a 4-fight winning streak (3 in the UFC). Although Cote has been more active and has some momentum, I think Almeida will put him on his back and get a submission.
Pick: Ricardo Almeida by submission round 1.
Joe Stevenson Vs. Gleison Tibau
This one is an affair between two good grapplers. Stevenson made his pro debut at the age of 16, won the second season of TUF and recently lost against BJ Penn in a title match. I think Stevenson will win a decision after 15 minutes of action.
Pick: Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision.
Josh Koscheck Vs. Chris Lytle
Chris Lytle is technically the better striker, but Josh Koscheck will probably take him down if he is in any kind of trouble on the feet. Lytle is good enough on the ground not be finished, but not good enough to catch Koscheck in a submission.
Pick: Josh Koscheck by unanimous decision.
Tyson Griffin Vs. Marcus Aurelio
Marcus Aurelio is an absolute monster if the match-up favors him, like when he choked out Takanori Gomi, who was on top of his career at that moment and came of a 10-fight winning streak and the victory in the Pride FC 2005 lightweight GP. Then again, if the match-up is unfavorable, he can be shut down and dominated. This is what I think Tyson Griffin will be able to do.
Pick: Tyson Griffin by unanimous decision.
Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Justin McCully
Gabriel Gonzaga had a lot of hype after his head kick knock out of Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic, now he has two losses in a row against, Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum, and the hype has faded. Still Gonzaga is better than Justin McCully both on the ground and on the feet.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga by submission round 1.
Jorge Gurgel Vs. Cole Miller
Jorge Gurgel has never impressed me. I think he looks small for 155 lb. and has had a lot of problems with injuries. Still he has a decent record, 12-3. Cole Miller is young and has talent. Miller will also have a reach advantage. Both usually fight at a high pace and are good on the ground and standing, with wrestling being their weakness.
Pick: Cole Miller by unanimous decision.
Melvin Guillard Vs. Dennis Siver
Melvin Guillard is talented and has physical tools to be a good fighter, his problems seems to be mostly in his personal life. He got caught with cocaine in his body earlier in his career. He is also submittable if he is put on his back. Dennis Siver though isn't good enough to do this, I think.
Pick: Melvin Guillard by KO/TKO round 1.
Corey Hill Vs. Justin Buchholz
Corey Hill is abnormally tall for this weight division (193 cm/70 kg). He also has an alter ego named Buddy Rowe. He is not as experienced as Justin Buchholz but he is training hard and will stop Buchholz in the first round. Take a look at this