Every so often the matchmakers Joe Silva and Sean Selby get a matchup so full of intrigue and possibilities that it is like catching lightning in a bottle. Demian Maia vs. Carlos Condit is a matchup so deliciously brimming with intrigue and possibilities that I want to give each of them a hug for booking it.
They are ranked at no. 3 and no. 4 respectively in the Welterweight Division, and the winner of this really should get the next shot at the championship. Of course, this being the UFC, what should happen and what does happen tend to vary wildly, but I for one sincerely hope that it does.
Demian Maia is the roadblock that fighters must pass if they want to get into title contention. Unfortunately for those who do end up fighting the jiu-jitsu wizard, they nearly always end up on the wrong end. He is currently on a five fight win streak and most recently defeated Matt Brown by rear-naked choke at UFC 198.
Before that he defeated Gunnar Nelson and Neil Magny. Magny had been on an incredible win streak of seven before being thoroughly out grappled by Maia and also succumbed to a rear-naked choke in round 2. His defeat of Gunnar Nelson was even more impressive in my eyes. Nelson is known to have strong a strong karate style and is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. As Conor McGregor’s training partner, the UFC was keen to showcase his talents. It was such a one sided destruction in favour of Maia that even though it went to a decision, I fear he may never get back to the elevated position he was in before the fight happened.
Demian Maia is in my opinion the greatest jiu-jitsu practioner currently competing in the UFC today, run only close by Jacare Souza and possibly Fabricio Werdum. He holds 11 victories by submission in his MMA career and has an overall record of 23-6.
His opponent, Carlos ‘The Natural Born Killer’ Condit, is a whirlwind of pure MMA violence. An excellent striker, his overall game is solid and he can hold his own on the mat. His volume of strikes, technical prowess, and outstanding cardio are what set him apart from others in the division. While he is not on a win streak, he should probably be the current Welterweight Champion. His current record is 30-9. Condit himself has many submissions to his credit, but perhaps against lesser calibre competition than Maia.
Against Robbie Lawler, he put forth an almighty effort and, in my opinion, should have gotten the win that I felt his striking volume and damage deserved. It was an excellent fight and left the two competitors with enhanced reputations along with perhaps shorter careers.
After the fight with Lawler, Condit talked openly about retirement. “I’ve been at this for a long time, over 40 professional MMA and kickboxing (fights),” he said. “I came up short tonight. Tonight was kind of a do-or-die moment for my career, I feel like, and I was all in. If I got that strap, I would keep fighting. If I didn’t – like I didn’t – I’d see if I can continue to do this.”
Thankfully those at the UFC managed to dissuade him from retiring as it would be a huge shame as he is one of the more entertaining fighters around and I could not be more excited for this fight.
With the winner likely to get a title shot, both will be doing everything in their power. Both fighters come from great camps, but with Condit at Jackson/Wink, which is widely respected as the best fight camp, you can be assured that they will have left no stone unturned in preparation for this bout, especially given that if Condit loses, it may well be his last.
Before Condit lost the decision to Lawler, he beat Thiago Alves by doctor stoppage at the end of the second round. He will need to keep the fight standing and have a similar game plan to the one that saw him beat Nick Diaz on points in a tightly contested three round affair. That put him into a title fight against one of the greatest of all time in George St-Pierre, which he lost via a unanimous decision in a competitive close fight.
For Maia, even though his striking has developed, he is still some way behind Condit in that department. He needs to keep it standing long enough to give Condit something to think about and then dive in for a double or push against the fence and pressure him to the ground to try to take his back. It is in the clinch that I feel this will be won or lost and I have a feeling that Maia will get his submission win. On his way to winning, though, he will get damaged and bloodied.
I’m picking Maia by submission in round 4. I believe a 5 round fight is just too long to avoid the jiu-jitsu of his at bay. However, with Condit’s pure violence, he could just as equally get the TKO. The only thing I know for sure is I can’t wait to see how it plays out.
(Christopher King of Arundel, England is a new MMATorch contributor. He got hooked on MMA after watching UFC 114 featuring “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans and from there, he says, “I spent a ridiculous amount of money and time watching every event from UFC 1 up to the present so I could understand the history of the sport, the fighters, the weight divisions and everything else in between. It was the style of fighting that drew me in, in order to see what martial art was the most effective, and from there, the fighters themselves, their story, their training and the sacrifices that they go through.” Follow him on Twitter – @ChristofKing)