Demian Maia started his professional MMA career in perfect fashion, winning his first 11 bouts, including five in the UFC. However, since a loss to Nate Marquardt in 2009, Maia has gone just 3-3 inside the Octagon.
Saturday night, Maia meets Jorge Santiago at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III from the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. The Maia-Santiago fight is set for the Spike TV prelim special.
Maia (14-3) was awarded a title shot against UFC middleweight contender Anderson Silva in 2010, going five rounds with the champion before being dealt a decision loss. Still, that fight showed just how talented the Brazilian has become.
“It was a hard fight, but I was able to stand with him for five rounds,” said Maia, in an interview with UFC.com recently. I know that I’m not the best standing up, so that gave me more confidence.”
In preparation for Santiago, the black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu has continued to work on his striking, hoping to either land a devastating knockout punch or lock in a submission.
“Fighting for me is a chess game. I’m not angry with my opponent. I just want to go in there and win without him hurting me or me hurting him,” Maia said. “(Santiago is) very complete. Ever since my loss to Nate Marquardt I focused a lot on my stand-up. MMA is a complicated game because it’s hard to keep the balance (between martial arts). So at one point I trained a lot more standing and less jiu-jitsu and I lost a little rhythm on the ground. I’ve been trying to get my focus on jiu-jitsu again.”
UFC 136 takes place this Saturday and will feature two championship bouts, as Frankie Edgar defends his UFC lightweight title against Gray Maynard, and Jose Aldo puts his UFC featherweight crown on the line against Kenny Florian.