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It was one of the toughest fights to predict heading into UFC 131. And predictably, it went down to the wire.
It was a bout with serious implications for possible title contention in the muddled 185-pound division. In the end, it was Munoz who had his hand raised although both fighters did well for themselves with their respective performances.
Find out how each fighter impressed after the jump:
While much heralded for the recent advancements in his striking, it wasn't Munoz, but rather Maia, who came out of the gate on fire in the first round with his stand up. Maia wobbled Munoz with a perfectly placed left hook early in the fight and he never gave the "Filipino Wrecking Machine" room to breathe early.
He surprised Munoz with excellent footwork, speed and tenacity in his striking, as well as his deceptive strength in the clinch to clearly take the first round.
Munoz was not deterred, however, responding in the beginning of the second round with a huge right hand that clipped Maia and forced the Brazilian to turn away from the Reign MMA fighter's power.
When the fight went to the ground, Maia wisely kept his head close to Munoz and away from his tremendous "Donkey Kong punches" on the ground. But while the head wasn't an available target, Munoz went to work with some heavy blows to Maia's legs and body, which were ripe for the pounding and helped him even the score.
The third round was extremely, extremely close as Munoz pushed forward with kicks and takedown attempts. Maia responded with a unique submission attempt from the back -- a crucifix -- and counter strikes of his own.
In one of the most bizarre moves of the night, Munoz attempted a D'arce choke on Maia when the ADCC champion Brazlian jiu-jitsu master's neck was available. Why he thought that was a good idea is a question better left for another time, but Maia instantly reversed out of the position.
It was a bout that could have gone either way, but Munoz pulled out the unanimous decision, even taking a perplexing 30-27 score on one of the judges' cards.
Maia shouldn't be disheartened with this loss. He showed up and actually got the better of Munoz in the striking and actually had the master of ground and pound hurt on multiple occasions and threatened a few times on the ground with his vaunted jiu-jitsu.
He shouldn't be dropped down the ladder much with this loss and will likely square off with another top middleweight who is also coming off a loss. A fight with former Sengoku champion Jorge Santiago would be very fun as would a match with the loser of the upcoming Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben match at UFC 132
With the victory, meanwhile, Munoz is now in the realm of contenders. It's very likely that he'll fight fellow contender Brian Stann or perhaps the winner of the Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama fight at UFC 133 or perhaps Wanderlei Silva if the former Pride champion can get past Chris Leben in his next fight.
What do you say, Maniacs?
Did Maia's advancement in striking give you confidence in his future contender potential? Did you see anything in Munoz that makes you believe he could challenge for the Anderson Silva's belt?