UFC 131 fight card: Demain Maia vs Mark Munoz put their skills to the test in Vancouver


It's slick Brazilian jiu-jitsu taking on blue collar American wrestling on the UFC 131:"Dos Santos vs. Carwin" main card when Demian Maia and Mark Munoz collide in a middleweight match up at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, this evening.

In fact, there may not be two better fighters with better credentials competing in the mixed martial arts today in those two disciplines.

Maia, a fourth-degree black belt under Fabio Gurgel, won the esteemed 2007 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in 2007. He also won the 2007 Super Challenge, as well as several other major tournaments.

Muñoz, meanwhile, was a two-time California State Wrestling Champion in high school. At Oklahoma State University, he won two Big 12 titles and was a two-time All-American, as well as a 197-pound Division I national champion in 2001.

It's these strengths that have got both fighters to this point in their careers. And it will be these strengths that once again determine a winner tonight.

Maia's five-fight submission streak to start his UFC career was nothing short of impressive. The way in which he calmly and rather effortlessly submitted Chael Sonnen at UFC 95 two years ago was the cherry on top of a delicious sundae.

However, since a knockout loss to Nate Marquardt in his next appearance, he hasn't been able to match those dominant finishes. Sure, the skill of his opposition has improved during this time, but four consecutive decisions (3-1) is unremarkable for someone so talented.

"The Filipino Wrecking Machine" is fresh off a knockout of C.B. Dollaway. Despite his fantastic takedowns and brutal ground and pound -- perhaps the best in the business -- Munoz packs a mean punch. In fact, half of his 10 career wins have come via (technical) knockout.

He is evolving into a terrific all-around fighter, putting the "mixed" into mixed martial arts.

Having said that, Munoz has never faced someone so dangerous on the ground. All it takes is one mistake and he could end up twisted into a pretzel, tapping the mat for mercy.

This is a true test for both fighters that will see them push their skills to the limits. Maia needs another finish to add to his highlight reel, while Munoz needs the pelt of a former (and decorated) number one contender to tack to his wall.

Should be a real treat to see how it all unfolds.

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