Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recently tied a ribbon around its UFC on FOX 21 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which took place last Sat. night (Aug. 27, 2016) inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (full results here).
In the welterweight main event, streaking division contender and longtime jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia looked to continue his winning ways against revitalized veteran stalwart Carlos Condit, in a battle of styles that was scheduled for five grueling rounds.
It barely lasted one.
Maia did what most combat sports fans -- and even Condit -- expected him to do, avoiding the striking arsenal of his well-rounded foe and dragging the fight to the floor. From there, the five-time world grappling champion secured the back and forced "The Natural Born Killer" to quit via rear-naked choke.
Watch the video highlights of his slick finish here.
But disposing of Condit was still not enough to earn a welterweight title shot. Ahead of him in the 170-pound pecking order is streaking striker and newly-anointed "Wonder Woman," Stephen Thompson, who is expected to get first crack at reigning champion Tyron Woodley.
The same "Chosen One" who secured his crack at the crown by riding the pine.
Sitting on the bench is probably not the best way to endear yourself to the impatient MMA fanbase, but Maia (23-6) is now the winner of six straight with three finishes. Besides, it worked for Woodley, who (with a little help from Johny Hendricks) did not compete for well over a year.
When he did, it was goodnight
At first glance, it appears as though Maia won't have to wait very long and can pencil himself in for the winner of Woodley vs. Thompson. But we also have to consider that Georges St-Pierre, who once held division gold and is widely considered the uncrowned "king" of pay-per-view (PPV) events, is teasing a UFC 206 comeback.
If "Rush" wants a title fight, you can bet the promotion will give him one.
We also don't know what to expect if and when Woodley and Thompson lock horns. Injuries are a part of the hurt business before, during, and even after the fight, which could prolong a follow-up title defense. Or perhaps United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) lands another big fish.
Then comes the possibility of a close fight, or a potential robbery, followed by calls for an immediate rematch. At age 38, Maia is undoubtedly rolling the dice, but it's perhaps less of a gamble than taking another fight ... and losing (sucks when that happens).
As for the rest of the 170-pound weight class? Here's the current top 15:
1. Robbie Lawler
2. Stephen Thompson
3. Demian Maia
4. Carlos Condit
5. Kelvin Gastelum
6. Johny Hendricks
7. Donald Cerrone
7. Neil Magny
9. Lorenz Larkin
10. Rick Story (tie)
10. Dong Hyun Kim (tie)
12. Gunnar Nelson
13. Tarec Saffiedine
14. Matt Brown
15. Albert Tumenov
The next viable contender is Kelvin Gastelum (12-2), but he hasn't won back-to-back fights in nearly two years.
If Condit sticks around, he can always bargain for a Nick Diaz rematch, though it's hard to know what kind of plans the promotion has for the returning welterweight lightning rod. In addition, Donald Cerrone is slowly-but-surely making his way up the 170-pound ladder, finishing three straight at his new home.
So many moving parts in this division ... but Demian Maia doesn't appear to be one of them.