Demian Maia was pitted against a very durable and evenly matched grappling foe last night (January 28, 2012) in the undefeated and much-hyped wrestling prospect Chris Weidman to open up the UFC on FOX 2 main card.
Both men were very dangerous on the ground, with Maia perhaps having some of the most lethal submission attacks in the UFC and Weidman quickly turning himself into a tapout machine as well.
It was expected that this could be a fight Joe Rogan would be losing his mind in trying to keep track of all the sweeps and transitions on the canvas.
So how did this fight turn into a head-scratching and horrendous kickboxing battle that had the fans booing them out of the arena? And where do both men go from here?
Follow me after the jump for our Chris Weidman vs. Demian Maia UFC on FOX 2 post-fight review and analysis:
After an incredibly tedious feeling-out process, both fighters finally engaged in some strikes, but Maia's "improved" striking was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it was two tentative and very sloppy kickboxers attempting to "stand and bang" over the course of three rounds.
To Weidman's credit, at least he was moving forward and throwing straighter blows. Maia, on the other hand, was having major issues putting any sort of combination together and he was constantly darting away from the younger wrestler, occasionally popping back in to throw a looping hook.
On top of not being able to use proper technique and at least throw with some power, neither man was very accurate either, routinely coming up short or missing wide. Fightmetric calculated that neither man was able to even land 40 percent of their strikes, which is just a horrendous statistic and very telling.
Perhaps the most puzzling of all was when Weidman finally went to his roots and took Maia down, what did the Brazilian do? A fighter known for some legendary ability to submit opposition, especially with the triangle choke, all he did was work to get back to his feet. It's like he didn't even consider a sweep attempt or a submission attempt from bottom.
To compound matters, by the third round, both men were exhausted and completely gassed. Their strikes were already slow when they were fresh, but this time, they were practically in super slow motion. Perhaps feeling a sense of urgency, Maia finally attempted some takedowns, but he didn't use much set-up at all plus he was dealing with a man who was an All-American wrestler who has great balance and ability to stop terrific wrestlers, which Maia is not.
With the crowd booing sporadically and mixing in periods of complete silence, everyone was relieved when this fight was over. Wiedman's occasional takedowns and forward pressure was enough to earn the nod with a unanimous decision, although it was mistakenly announced as a split decision during the live broadcast.
For Demian Maia, what in the hell was that? He used to be considered an elite middleweight in the UFC, a man so good at submissions that you couldn't stop them, but he's put so much time in trying to round out his striking, he's let his other skills stagnate. The result? He's becoming an average MMA fighter, and his fights are not nearly as fun to watch as they used to. This man used to go balls out for submissions, putting the 185 pound division on notice, but now he's just trying to be an average kickboxer, and it's not even the exciting although very untechnical Jorge Gurgel-style either, it's just boring. The other major issue was that he gassed so horribly in this fight. He had a full training camp, at least Weidman had an excuse with the short notice and a 10 day, 31 pound weight cut.
Hopefully Maia has a wake-up call after this bout. He's losing huge momentum in the division and something needs to change. The fact that he didn't even try to sweep or submit Weidman from bottom position was very telling. Did he think he was winning the stand-up portion? Has he completely lost confidence in his submission skills? We'll just have to wait and see on that one. Maia could face anyone in his next bout, from fellow main card loser Michael Bisping to Jason Miller or the loser of the upcoming Aaron Simpson vs. Ronny Markes fight.
For Chris Weidman, no, this wasn't a very fun performance to watch, but at least he got the job done. He was fighting on short notice and after having to cut a significant amount of weight in a 10 day span so at least the fact that he gassed was forgivable. Also, he's still extremely raw, so there's no shame in not putting on a striking clinic either. He didn't light the world on fire, but he got the "W" against a very credible opponent, so good for him. Hopefully he can continue to progress and develop all the areas of his game.
Potential opponents for Weidman include Alan Belcher, the winner or Aaron Simpson vs. Ronny Markes or perhaps the winner of Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks. It all depends on how fast they want to keep progressing him so early in his career. He still needs time to grow and develop so my suggestion is the slower the better.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
How horrific of an opener was this for the UFC's 2012 debut on big FOX? Do you think Demian Maia can ever turn it around? What's your opinion on the potential of Chris Weidman?