With the original UFC Fight Night 62 main event between Bantamweight contenders, Urijah Faber vs. Raphael Assuncao, scrapped because of injuries, it was up to Demian Maia and Ryan LaFlare to anchor the FOX Sports 1-televised event tonight (Sat., March 21, 2015) inside Maracanazinho Gymnasium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
And the Welterweight standouts did an admirable job.
Maia, visibly more muscular than he has looked in the past, came out of his corner pumping furious piston-like jabs into thin air. One minute into the match, he already had LaFlare on his back with a smooth takedown set up by the phantom striking. Maia soon moved to side control and began to put in some work, softening LaFlare with punches, while angling for possible submissions.
With two minutes to go in round one, Maia already secured full mount, but LaFlare was able to buck him back into side control with an effective butterfly guard. Maia, though, rode LaFlare until the round expired with his suffocating top game.
LaFlare was sucking wind to start the second stanza, but it didn't stop him from getting the action started with a few Superman punches and hooks that were mildly effective. Most important, though, LaFlare stuffed Maia's initial takedown attempt, but he wouldn't be so lucky the second time around.
Once again in side control, Maia spent about two minutes working for some kind of submission that never materialized. When that didn't work, he once again hopped into full mount, drilling LaFlare with short rabbit punches, which eventually led to an arm-triangle choke that he almost secured.
LaFlare survived, but was able to do absolutely nothing off his back for the second straight round.
To start the third, LaFlare came out bopping, hoping to land some significant strikes to turn the tide of the match. Maia, though, was elusive, not letting his opponent get too close. On the ensuing takedown attempt, LaFlare was able to stuff Maia and land in top position. He was unable to do anything with it, though, as Maia attempted a leg lock, forcing LaFlare to give up his position, only to find himself on his back once again.
For the third straight round, Maia mounted LaFlare, but for the third straight round, was unable to close the deal or unleash significant damage.
Between rounds, LaFlare's corner team begged him to use his top-shelf wrestling to avoid the takedowns. It didn't work -- LaFlare was on his back again in 90 seconds. He threatened with a kimura from the bottom, but it didn't last long. Maia went back to riding and grinding LaFlare, taking full mount and boxing his ears. Once again it led to an arm-triangle choke, which LaFlare defended masterfully as Maia surgically tightened his hold for a full minute.
LaFlare was saved by the bell, but entered the fifth and final frame utterly defeated.
Needing a finish to capture unlikely come-from-behind victory, LaFlare came out winging punches as Maia, exhausted, slowly retreated. Maia attempted to pull guard, but LaFlare was able to step out and summon the Brazilian back to his feet. Perhaps catching his second wind, LaFlare started to turn up the heat, drilling Maia with a knee as he came in for a takedown.
Maia flopped around on the floor totally spent. In fact, referee "Big" John McCarthy warned Maia to get back to his feet quicker or he would deduct a point. LaFlare, on the ensuing exchange, landed a big left to the body, but Maia was able to use his momentum against him and score a takedown.
At the bell, Maia flopped one final time, and McCarthy made good on his promise to deduct a point, giving LaFlare a 10-8 round. But, it didn't matter because Maia had completely shut him out on the scorecards up until that point, enough to ensure him an important unanimous decision win over a Top 10-ranked opponent.
It wasn't pretty, but it was certainly super efficient ... for four rounds.
For complete results from UFC Fight Night 62: "Maia vs. LaFlare," including play-by-play updates, click here.