The undefeated Kamaru Usman fought welterweight veteran Demian Maia tonight (May 19, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 129, held in Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile, broadcast live and free on Fox Sports 1. It was Maia’s old-man wiles and veteran grappling wizardry against Usman’s raw strength and national championship wrestling. Maia was attempting to rebound after two losses to powerful wrestlers in Covington and Woodley against yet another wrestler in Usman. Usman was attempting to make his breakthrough to the elite of the division with a win.
Kamaru Usman walked out to salsa music dancing for the crowd. They cheered harder for Maia, though, who walked out to Linkin Park.
Usman came out crawling but stood up immediately. He spun Maia around with a leg kick. He looked fluid, but ate a straight left from Maia. Usman landed an upjab. Maia shot in on a leg kick and for a split second got Usman down, but the Nigerian used a whizzer to flatten Maia out. Maia looked for Usman’s back against the cage, and they ended up in a weird twisted pretzel position with Maia having one hook in but Usman refusing to give up the whizzer on Maia’s arm despite his arm being behind his own back. Maia began punching Usman’s butt but it wasn’t enough to keep the referee from breaking them up. Usman threw out his jab. Maia looked for his straight left. Usman brushed a hook off Maia’s forehead; Maia connected with a solid left overhand that sent Usman back a bit. Usman fired a combination off Maia’s arms.
Usman kicked at Maia’s arms to start the second round. They both swung and missed, Usman looking to get his hands going. Usman landed his jab. Maia shot and Usman stuffed the attempt, getting to the front headlock position. He landed a short hook to the side of Maia’s head. They stood, and Usman swung big looking for Maia’s head. Maia landed his signature left straight, then timed another shot perfectly off a leg kick by Usman. The Nigerian had to work to sprawl out, but sprawl out he did. They resumed their slow-paced kickbxoing fight, Maia landing that left hand again. He grabbed a single-leg and once again Usman had to work, but successfully stuffed the attempt. Usman pushed forward into the pocket, Maia tried to grab a single-leg and Usman stuffed him. Maia pulled guard with twenty seconds to go but couldn’t get anything going from the bottom.
The third round began with Usman looking for the straight punched and Maia countering with his overhand left and looking for an opening to shoot. Usman landed a couple punches that forced Maia backwards, forcing the Brazilian to circle out under fire. Usman feinted, threw a big right straight that just landed. Maia landed a one-two. Usman threw a hook at a circling Maia. Maia, never known for his power, was nonetheless holding his own in the standup, making Usman chase him wildly with clubbing punches. Maia laid down in the center of the cage and Usman clubbed his feet with punches rather than engage him. The referee stood Maia back up. Usman sprawled out hard on another shot, landing a couple punches in the transition afterwards as the round ended.
Usman dropped Maia with a straight punch to open the fourth! He followed Maia to the mat, getting the front headlock position but not doing much with it. He backed off and made Maia stand up. Usman landed a jab, stuffed a takedown, landed hooks to Maia’s head from the front headlock. Maia was having no success, but stayed on the mat looking to get to guard. Usman wouldn’t let him, and got back to the feet. Maia got to a bodylock but Usman stayed stubbornly upright. Maia landed a lead hook and his left hand. Usman came forward with that left straight again. Another Maia shot stuffed. Usman kept stalking, to little effect, Maia blocking his punches until the bell.
Usman stuffed another couple shots and moved away from Maia’s guard pull off his shot. Maia stayed on his back, but the referee waved him up. Usman swung his hands, looking for the kill shot, hitting nothing but air. Maia blocked a shot nearly running away. Maia landed a left straight and made another futile takedown attempt. Usman found himself in top position in north-south, but even that position wasn’t enough to tempt him to stay on the mat and he broke away. Maia ate a stiff jab. He shot in again and pulled half guard, with Usman pushing his head away to prevent the sweep, and stood up. Usman landed his rear straight. Maia landed his left overhand again. Usman threw up a high kick, Maia a spinning back kick, Usman landed a big right straight, and the fight came to an end.
Usman now has an 8-fight win streak at welterweight, and says “no excuses, but I think I broke my right hand in the 2nd... broke my left hand in the 3rd!” He said Demian Maia has a hard head and does a good job blocking punches with his frontal lobe. He said he’s tired of calling out opponents to no avail, so said his opponents need to come to him.
Official result: Kamaru Usman def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46x2)
For complete Fight Night 129 results, including play-by-play, click here