Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight ground fighters Demian Maia and Colby Covington collided last night (Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
An incredible win streak saw Maia compete with Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight strap just a few months ago, but ultimately Maia came up short in an ugly fight. In his attempt to return to the win column, Maia was look to remind fight fans why his jiu-jitsu is so dominant.
Meanwhile, Covington has been brash — and maybe a bit annoying — in his attempts to build a name for himself, but you can’t deny the results of his work in the cage. The stud wrestler rose to the top 10 fairly quickly, and this was his chance to break into the title mix.
For a pair of grapplers, the fighters opened up with a heated exchanges of strikes. Maia landed hard first, but Covington also defended against his foe’s first takedown attempt, which was a big moment. By the midway point in the round, Covington was bloodied, but he was also scoring hard low kicks and pushing the pace.
It was brutal round. Covington came in with an approach unlike his previous ones, keeping his feet planted and hands high. He invited his opponent to punch him and ate shots because of it, but Covington also pushed a pace that Maia is not comfortable with.
Neither man won the round clearly, but both took abuse. Covington’s face wore a lot of damage, while Maia’s front leg was an unpleasant shade of red.
Maia had enough of that kickboxing shit and opened with a committed takedown attempt, but Covington stuffed it. That wasted a good bit of the Brazilian’s energy, as did his second, third, and fourth failed takedown that came moments later. Covington was tired from the rapid pace as well, but forcing Maia to wrestle from bad positions cost his opponent more energy than it takes to defend a single leg.
On the feet, Covington didn’t exactly dominate, but he was the more active fighter. Maia pretty much abandoned striking after failing on a lot of shots, which allowed Covington to land some decent shots.
Between Covington’s pressure, cleaner shots, and perfect takedown defense, it was a clear round for the wrestler.
Covington continued the relentless pressure in the third round, and the break between rounds helped Covington increase his volume as well. Maia relented on the failed takedown attempt, which helped him keep up with Covington on his feet better than in the previous round.
Nevertheless, a failed shot from Maia in the finale minute resulted in Covington more willing to grapple. He did so, safely controlling the front head lock and landing without really engaging Maia on the mat. Maia was also barely alive, and Covington finished the round with a near finish as his foe was too tired to truly defend himself.
It started out a brawl and ended with complete dominance.
Covington has never fought like this before. In the past, he’s been very selective with striking exchanges and used the threat of his wrestling to land shots. This was a complete change, as he walked Maia down with flat-feet and hands high. Covington knew he was going to eat a lot of shots with that approach, but he also knew that he would set a pace that Maia couldn’t match.
His aggression also kept him off the fence, where Maia lands his best takedowns.
Conditioning only goes so far. Covington pushed a mad pace and was tired as hell. The true difference was mentality. Covington was far more comfortable in that state of dead fatigue, and it showed when Maia took sloppy shots while Covington committed to the slugfest.
The tide turned, Maia’s gas tank went deeper into empty, and Covington moved from blood-and-guts war to easy victory all thanks to his wrestler mentality. It may even have earned him a title shot.
As for Maia, he’s not done as a top 15 fighter, but this is the end of Maia as a title contender. His style is taxing if he doesn’t score the early takedown, and that’s an opening that elite fighters have figured out.
On the bright side, he can still take out non-top five foes and has a chance to capture the all-time wins and submissions records if he keeps fighting.
Last night, Colby Covington moved into the title mix with his fifth consecutive win. Should he receive a title shot?
For complete UFC Fight Night 119 “Miller vs. Trinaldo” results and play-by-play, click HERE!