Ode to Demian Maia


Two weeks ago, Demian Maia’s 7 fight winning streak and 3 year journey to a title shot came to an unceremonious end in what most consider to be a uneventful fight. But this post isn’t about that fight.

Demian Maia grinded his way to the top contender spot in one of the most talent rich weight classes of Mixed Martial Arts. He done this not by superhuman athletic ability or overwhelming strength. He doesn’t have an intimidating physique or an aggressive temperament.  Nor is his game built on tricky techniques like Imanari rolls or brimbolos.

Rather, Maia’s game is perfected simplicity. Takedowns that were generated from stubbornness more so than technique. A half guard sweep built off of establishing the underhook. Guard passes that took advantage of balance and leverage rather than speed and agility. And then finishing most fights with combat’s most prominent submission, the rear naked choke. It could all look pedestrian without context.

And maybe thats why Maia seemed so disregarded. In this era of Mixed Martial Arts, we are expecting the superhuman, the freak athletes like GSP or the monsters like Brock Lesnar or the charismatic strikers like Anderson Silva. Demian’s game looked closer to what you see at your academy’s open mat time than what you see in other MMA fights.

To me, that was the beauty of Maia’s game. MMA started in the US as a showcase of the effectiveness any person, even the smaller and unassuming guy, can have in a fight with the proper technique. And the mild mannered Maia carries on that torch.

Damaian Maia Technique Resources:

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