Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. Four years ago today, the MMATorch team provided their opinions on whether Damien Maia was closer to a UFC Welterweight Title fight because of his win over Jon Fitch. Four years later, he’s been bypassed again as Tyron Woodley defends his Welterweight Title against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in a rematch. The following is where things stood, according to our team, four years ago today…
RICH HANSEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
I honestly have no idea how close Demian Maia is to contention at 170. Dana White has said his next fight will be against one of the welterweights fighting at UFC 158 next month, but Dana White is just slick enough to have phrased that in such a manner where it could be Maia vs. Dan Miller next. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But jokes aside, I think Maia next fights the winner of Carlos Condit vs. Rory MacDonald, with the winner of that fight getting a title shot against GSP.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think he’s got a few more fights he’ll need to win before he could get a shot, as there are several guys ahead of him. Maia needs to beat at least two of the top 10 guys in order to get a title shot. If things fall his way from a matchup standpoint, he could get a shot after two more wins. If not, he’ll need at least three wins.
TONY BECERRA, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Demian Maia has been on a nice run since dropping down to welterweight, and I think he is closer to a title shot than people want to believe. I’m sure Johnny Hendricks has something to say about that and with a victory against Jake Ellenberger the UFC will have no choice… no choice but to book Hendricks vs Maia! Seriously though, how many times does the UFC need to make Johnny Hendricks prove to them that he is worthy of a title shot? As for Demian Maia, I’d say he’s a good one or two fights away from a shot at the belt.
ERIC HOBAUGH, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think he is only one fight away. He only needs to beat one more top five guy and he gets the title shot. He may even leapfrog ahead of Hendricks if he can beat that top five guy impressively enough. I do not agree with that scenario, but the UFC has proven it will make whatever fights they think will sell. I also think that unlike most other champs in the UFC, GSP has a say in who he fights. I am not sure he wants to fight Hendricks and if that is the case then Maia could fight for the strap sooner rather than later.
DAN MOORE, MMATORCH UK CONTRIBUTOR
It’s moved him a little bit closer, but not by much. He was excellent in his win over Fitch, but Nick Diaz, Johny Hendricks, and Rory MacDonald are all ahead of him right now. UFC 158 will eliminate Diaz from the mix; but it will also eliminate Hendricks if Jake Ellenberger pulls off the upset. If that happens, Maia could end up being next.
Nate Marquardt eliminated himself in his final Strikeforce bout, Tyron Woodley isn’t ready for GSP yet, and no one really knows if MacDonald would consider fighting GSP if he gets past Carlos Condit. We’ve already seen the middleweight division go from being stacked to ending up with a sole contender whose biggest win was on a FUEL TV card. The very same thing could happen at 170 lbs and Maia could be in with a shot, this year even.
I’d like to see Maia ride Josh Koscheck like Seabiscuit next, so make that happen once the latter beats Robbie Lawler at UFC 157.
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS FLASHBACK: 5 YRS AGO: Greg Jackson responds to criticism of Diaz-Condit excitement level (w/Penick’s Analysis)