Demian Maia looked to continue his run of first round finishes last night (Oct. 13, 2012) against Rick Story after dropping down to 170 pounds in the opening bout of the UFC 153 main card in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Some had called Maia's last performance, an injury TKO over Dong Hyun Kim at UFC 148, a fluke, and in some ways it was due to the random injury occurance, but Maia had looked considerably more aggressive than in previous bouts particular in his hunting for takedowns and use of the ground game.
He would continue this trend against Story, quickly closing the distance and putting him on the ground while attacking with submissions from the get-go.
So what was the ultimate key to victory for Maia? And where do both men go from here?
Early on, Story stepped forward, throwing his powerful left hand and attempting to pressure Maia on the feet, just like he should be, but Maia used that aggression against him.
The second Story threw the big left hook again, Maia ducked underneath it and grabbed a leg, eventually dropping him to the ground.
Once on the ground, he immediately began advancing his position and he was all over Story, quickly putting him back down after an a pair of attempts to get back to his feet. The final time, he advanced to a semi-full mount and began dropping punches.
The second Story gave him the slightest opening, Maia already had both hooks in and began attacking and hunting for a rear naked choke. While Story didn't completely give up his neck, Maia didn't care as he wrapped up his forearm around Story's chin and began cranking, squeezing with everything's he's got and torquing Story's neck a bit sideways.
Story looked extremely uncomfortable and when blood began pouring out of his nose, he was forced to tap out at just the midway point of the first round.
For Rick Story, he had the right idea in the beginning with the forward pressure and throwing his left hand aggressively, but he didn't respect Maia's takedowns nearly enough and was easily countered by a simple level change. He was a collegiate wrestler and his pressure-based attack helped him beat Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves. He should not be getting taken down so easily by Demian Maia. Once he was on the defensive against Maia, it was only a matter of time as he's had issues with fighters being on top of him before (Brenneman, Kampmann). He either needs to improve the submission defense or work on getting back to his feet after being taken down. Takedown defense is also a priority. He is a good fighter and should not be losing three of his last four fights, regardless of opponent.
Potential next fights for Rick Story include a do-or-die fight against Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jay Hieron or perhaps Amir Sadollah.
For Demian Maia, this is exactly the type of fighter fans have been expecting to see for the last three years. He'd disappeared after the knockout loss to Nate Marquardt but ever since dropping down to 170 pounds, he's been resurrected. Maia looked incredible, quickly attacking with takedowns and then aggressively hunting for dominant positions and submissions the second even the slightest opening materialized. He didn't even have a full rear naked choke available so he simply made the adjustment and turned it into a very painful face and neck crank variation which forced his opponent to tap out due to the horrific pressure he was applying.
The best fight available next for Maia would be Jon Fitch. Both men scored impressive wins in impressive fashion last night. Other available options include Jake Ellenberger or perhaps John Hathaway.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Were you surprised to see Maia roll through Story so quickly? At 34 years old, does he have enough left in him to make a run for the welterweight title?
For complete UFC 153 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.