Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight elites Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal will square off this Saturday (May 13, 2017) at UFC 211 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Maia is on a mission to methodically suffocate and strangle any Welterweight in his path. He’s utterly dominated his last six opponents, including a trio of submissions over top competition, and Maia has been deserving of a title shot for some time now. I’ve been a big fan of Jorge Masvidal — and for what it’s worth, Maia as well — for a long time, but he always seemed like one of those incredible talents who could beat anyone, but would never quite get to the title. In the last year, Masvidal seems to have changed, and he’s now closer to the top than at any other point in his 14-year fight career.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:
Key Wins: Carlos Condit (UFC on FOX 21), Neil Magny (UFC 190), Rick Story (UFC 160), Gunnar Nelson (UFC 195), Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 148)
Key Losses: Anderson Silva (UFC 112), Rory MacDonald (UFC 170), Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night 29)
Keys to Victory: Maia may be 39 years old, but he’s never looked better. The Brazilian’s game has been honed to perfection, as he’s able to methodically close the distance, hit his single-leg chain of takedowns with a remarkable rate of success, and then completely dominate from there. There’s no extra fluff. Maia gets close, gets in and then dominates. Everyone knows it, but decorated kickboxers, grapplers and wrestlers have failed to stop him.
In this match up, Maia’s biggest concern should probably be his conditioning. His gas tank is not weak, but wrestling continuously can be exhausting if unable to establish position. Masvidal is notoriously difficult to control, but Maia’s top game is perhaps the most smothering in UFC history.
In short, it’s an incredible match up.
At any rate, Maia’s priority needs to be establishing position and maintaining Masvidal. He’s going to land takedowns, but Maia needs to lock down from top position once there. His best chance is likely to hop onto the back in a scramble, as it is a truly difficult position for anyone to escape.
Key Wins: Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 23), Jake Ellenberger (TUF 24 Finale), Cezar Ferreira (TUF 21 Finale), Tim Means (UFC on FOX 7), James Krause (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 88), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 79)
Keys to Victory: Masvidal is an incredibly smooth technician. On his feet, his slick boxing is punctuated by hard kicks, and Masvidal can both counter or pressure. His grappling is incredible, as Masvidal never seems to give up real takedowns despite his tall stance.
In this bout, Masvidal’s goal should be to make Maia work constantly. The closest fighter to Masvidal that Maia has faced — at least in terms of possessing an elite, well-rounded skill set — was Rory MacDonald, and Masvidal must look to the Canadian for his keys to victory.
In that bout, MacDonald suffered a rough first round. Maia got in on his single-leg shot and finished it like he does to just about everyone. However, MacDonald kept working from his back the whole round, using his butterfly hooks to scramble and keep Maia active from top position. By the second round, Maia had slowed down just enough that MacDonald could stop some takedowns and land hard shots, increasing his conditioning lead.
Masvidal must replicate that strategy. He’s unlikely to win the first round, but if Masvidal can keep scrambling constantly and attack whenever possible on the feet, there’s a fair chance he can overwhelm his foe late.
Bottom Line: This is another title eliminator match up.
Maia has earned a shot, and if not for the Stephen Thompson rematch, he likely would have received it by now. Had he waited, he might not even have had to fight again. Regardless, this win secures his title shot further, making his argument indisputable. To be frank, a loss would be devastating, not unlike “Jacare” Souza’s recent loss to Robert Whittaker. Maia is nearly 40, so it’s likely now-or-never in regard to earning a Welterweight title shot.
The stakes are quite high for Masvidal as well. He’s been riding high since his “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone knockout, and a win over Maia would undoubtedly earn him a showdown opposite Tyron Woodley. A loss wouldn’t be quite as disastrous to his title hopes, but it would set Masvidal a few steps back.
At UFC 211, Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal will duel over a title shot. Which man will keep his win streak rolling?