Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) champion, four-time Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) "Submission of the Night" winner and all around submission savant.
Demian Maia definitely has the credentials to be considered one of the best submission artists in the world, let alone the most talented grappler in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Maia burst onto the UFC scene with five straight submission victories, collecting four "Submission of the Night" checks in the process. Maneuvering on the ground with unmatched smoothness and locking in his opponents with submissions so tight that evens the jaws of life couldn't pry them free, Maia can truly lay claim to be one of the most decorated jiu-jitsu players in the world.
However, after his impressive start, Maia has failed to make any opponent tap in three years. In fact, Maia hasn't finished an opponent in his last four wins, with his last four victories coming via decision.
With his recent lack of executing submission finishes, is Maia in danger of losing his appeal? Or does it even matter as long as he gets the victory?
Speaking to Tatame.com, Maia says he always looks for the submission victory when he steps inside the Octagon, but because of the high level of competition in the UFC, it's easier said than done
"That's my trademark and I want to submit again. If it depended exclusively on me (laughs)... I do my best on the trainings to get it, but we can't forget on the other side of the ring there's an opponent who's always getting better and better on a high level in the UFC. Despite I always want to submit them, finish it earlier, I can't complain. I must be humble and accept that there'll always be a well-prepared person, too."
Maia, who is currently without an opponent, hopes to one day fight in his native country Brazil, which will host UFC 142 at the HSBC Arena on Jan. 14, 2012:
"I'm not that worried about where I'm fighting and when; however, what I wanted was to fight until February to keep my rhythm. It'd be good to fight in Rio and we're doing some negotiation, but it depends on some things about UFC, so let it be. I know I'll eventually fight in Brazil. If it's not on this one, there'll be another one in Sao Paulo, probably in the middle of the year. What, to me, would mean the most, due to the fact it'll be in my hometown. I guess there'll be three events in Brazil next year, so it'd be a natural thing for me to fight here."
Maia made his UFC debut in 2007 at UFC 77 with a rear naked choke submission victory over Ryan Jensen in the very first round. Six months later, Maia cashed in on yet another award-winning performance as he literally put Ed Herman to sleep at UFC 83 with a triangle choke (and a few blows to the head for good measure).
The jiu-jitsu ace then reeled off two consecutive rear-naked choke victories over Jason McDonald and Nate Quarry in a span of three months at UFC 87 and UFC 91, respectively. Maia's last submission victory came at UFC 95 in 2009, when he locked in an air-tight triangle on Chael Sonnen that had the former number one contender tapping for air in the very first round.
Submitting folks has proved to be a rather lucrative trade for Maia, as he has collected nearly a quarter-million ($215,000) total throughout his tenure with the promotion with his four "Submission of the Night" bonus checks.
Maia's hot start was cooled off by Nate Marquardt at UFC 102 on Aug. 29, 2009 when "The Great" knocked him out just 21 seconds into the first round. Since then, Maia has gone 4-2 in the UFC, which includes a unanimous decision loss to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi.
Even though Maia is currently without an opponent lined up, it would be wise for him to brush up on his jiu-jitsu skills. He appears to be focused on returning to his submission roots, and there's no better place to do it then where it all began.
But, against who?