Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight grapplers Demian Maia and Gilbert Burns will collide this Saturday (March 14, 2020) at UFC Fight Night 170 from inside Ginasio Nilson Nelson in Brasilia, Brazil.
Maia is a specialist, and quite an enduring one at that. Though he’s not likely to vie for a title ever again, the 42-year-old veteran has quietly put together a three-fight win streak, proving himself quite potent even toward the tail end of his career. This is an interesting challenge for Maia, though, as Burns is one of very few men who can quite possibly match Maia on the mat. In addition, the Brazilian has won six bouts in the previous three years, only tasting defeat once in that span (to a pretty talented fighter named Dan Hooker).
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each athlete:
Key Wins: Jorge Masvidal (UFC 211), Carlos Condit (UFC on FOX 21), Ben Askren (UFC Fight Night 162), Neil Magny (UFC 190), Rick Story (UFC 160), Gunnar Nelson (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Tyron Woodley (UFC 214), Colby Covington (UFC Fight Night 119), Rory MacDonald (UFC 170), Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night 29)
Keys to Victory: Maia steps into the Octagon with a single goal: take the back. Everyone knows it, yet few have been able to prevent Maia’s takedown chaining and transitions, as the Brazilian is truly an expert at his craft.
As such, there are rarely any adjustments for Maia to make. It’s either going to work or it isn’t, and when he’s unable to play his game, Maia generally reverts to simply trying over and over again. At this point in his career, that’s unlikely to change.
Maia’s fight style is simply set in stone. He’s going to attempt to walk Burns into the fence, shoot a single, and transition toward the back mount. If there’s any real adjustment to be made, it’s avoiding waiting around on the outside, where Burns has serious finishing power.
Key Wins: Gunnar Nelson (UFC Fight Night 160), Alexey Kunchenko (UFC Fight Night 156), Alex Oliveira (UFC Fight Night 62), Olivier Aubin-Mercier (UFC 231)
Key Losses: Dan Hooker (UFC 226), Michel Prazeres (UFC Fight Night 95), Rashid Magomedov (UFC Fight Night 77)
Keys to Victory: In the last year, Burns relocated to Welterweight and earned a reputation for accepting short-notice fights — two decisions that have paid off big! “Durinho” is really coming into his own, as his powerful strikes and takedowns have only served to make his jiu-jitsu more effective.
Burns may be able to stymie Maia’s grappling attempts completely, in which case, he’s in complete control and needs zero strategy. If, however, Maia is able to find some success in dragging Burns down, the fight becomes all about doing damage and fatiguing his older opponent whenever possible.
First and foremost, leg kicks have proven very effective against Maia’s plodding, and Burns kicks very hard. In addition, Burns’ physicality is a real advantage, so if he’s able to deny a takedown and finds himself in the clinch, that would be a great time to rip some body shots or simply club Maia with a hook.
Lastly, Maia does take risks when searching for the back. If Burns finds an opportunity to slip out the back door or spin into top position, it’s imperative that he immediately goes to work with ground strikes, which will help sap away his foe’s strength.
It’s a great match up of ranked Welterweights.
At this stage of his career, Maia is not really a title contender despite his position as the fifth best contender. He’s already lost to the division’s top three fighters, so there really isn’t anywhere to climb. However, Maia is still interested in competing, and he is in the running all-time UFC victories.
Victory adds a win to his total and keeps him in the game for a little while longer.
The stakes are more serious for Burns, who is looking to break into the top 10 and announce himself as a major player at 170 pounds. This would be the biggest victory of his career, certainly the type of win that would set Burns up for another high-profile bout next. At 33 years of age, Burns appears to be in his prime, so there’s no better time than the present to go on a run.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 170 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+“Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also stream on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Fight Night 170, Demian Maia and Gilbert Burns will square off in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?