Undefeated as a welterweight and holding a clean sheet when it comes to submission losses, Demian Maia makes a strong case for title contention if he can overcome former Strikeforce and Elite XC Welterweight Champion Jake Shields. Both have a tremendous ground game and are touted as the best grapplers in mixed martial arts (MMA) today.
This five-round main event will determine who can climb the ranks in their division, with their eyes set on securing another title shot, since both men had lost their initial championship bouts a while back.
As both men finished off a week of media appearances and successfully made weight yesterday (see staredown pic here), it's time for their "Last Words," before the time for talking is done and the fists start to fly.
Both Demian Maia and Jake Shields showed off their sparring skills for the press and spoke with members of the media days before their anticipated main event showdown. Maia, a world-renown submission specialist and jiu-jitsu champion, spoke about the comparisons between both men when it comes down to a battle on the mat.
On why his jiu-jitsu is far more superior:
"In jiu-jitsu, I have more experience competing in the sport of jiu-jitsu, grappling matches, than he does. But we're not doing jiu-jitsu -- we're doing MMA. So I know he is very efficient doing MMA, jiu-jitsu and I am too. Let's see who is going to do better."
On his improved striking skills:
"I think striking is not a problem at all for me anymore. I did striking for five rounds against Anderson Silva so I know how to move but of course, it's a dangerous part for me. But I'm ready for striking also."
The attention then turned to the American, Jake Shields, who has also found success in nationwide tournaments thanks to his jiu-jitsu and grappling skills. Shields spoke about the match-up and how it will go towards his favor.
On which country will come out on top based on their duel:
"It's the best of America versus the best of Brazil. You know, Brazil claims to be the best but I want to go out there and prove America can be the best as well."
On how he sees the fight playing out:
"Maia being what he is, one of the best right now, I'm hungrier than I've ever been and I'm ready to go out there and make an example of him. Maia is a great opponent -- this is not going to be an easy fight. I don't expect this to be a first-round submission or a KO. That could happen but that's not what I've trained for. I've trained for an all-out war."
UFC on FOX Sports Interviews:
Heidi Androl of FOX Sports caught up with Demian Maia directly after the weigh-ins to ask him a couple of questions on his training regimens and where a win over Shields does for his career.
On being successful in his new weight class:
"It fits much better to my body type and also because we changed a lot of things in my training since I dropped to 170."
On his specific training methods besides grappling when preparing for this fight:
"A lot of stand-up, striking. I have my gameplan but that I cannot say."
On if he deserves the title shot if he defeats his opponent:
"I want the title shot if I defeat Jake Shields."
Androl then caught up with his opponent, Jake Shields, who spoke about his own unique style of American jiu-jitsu and praised Maia for being an all-rounded great fighter.
On his wish that this fight happened in the United States and how the travel has affected him:
"It's been minor. Getting used to the time, the jetlag, the different food -- but overall, it's not that bad. I'm used to fighting in foreign countries. It shouldn't be that big of a deal."
On how he breaks down his American jiu-jitsu:
"It's kind of my style of jiu-jitsu. It's a little different from the traditional Brazilian style. First off, I've never trained with a gi and also, I mix a lot of American wrestling with jiu-jitsu, along with sambo, Japanese judo -- so it's kind of like a combination of styles I mix together for more of an MMA base."
On the challenges presented from his opponent:
"Maia has lots of challenges -- his jiu-jitsu is just amazing. Great back attacks, triangles, his stand-up is good, his wrestling is phenomenal...he's just a well-rounded guy so it makes for a very exciting fight for me."
On being able to prove he has better submissions:
"I would really like to; I know for me would be to submit Demian Maia, something that has never been done. I would love to be the first to go out there and make him tap."
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 29 card tonight (Weds., Oct. 9, 2013), starting with the FOX Sports 1-televised under- and main-card bouts at 5 and 7 p.m. ET, respectively.
Those are the "last words" from the main event fighters. What are yours?