Demian Maia made his first walk to the Octagon in 2007 at UFC 77. Since that day he’s done nothing but reinforce the fact that he is one of the best fighters in the world.
Maia has fought the likes of Chael Sonnen, Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman, Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Colby Covington, Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren and Kamaru Usman, just to name a few of the beasts that stood across from him during his 31-fight UFC career.
As Maia nears the end of his incredible run, he wants to face unique challenges. On Saturday he will face highly decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu player Gilbert Burns in the co-main event of UFC Brasilia.
And he can’t wait.
“The matchup with Gilbert is interesting because he’s a great grappler and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter like me,” the 42-year old Maia said. “He was really top-level in his prime in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so it’s a different kind of challenge for me.”
The last fighter who posed a challenge to Maia was Askren at UFC Singapore in October. The bout was slotted as the main event and labeled as the fight that would potentially determine the best grappler in MMA. What ensued was a two-and-a-half round slugfest that ended with Maia finally getting Askren’s back and submitting him via rear naked choke.
It was a moment that Maia won’t ever forget.
“The fight with Ben Askren, maybe one day I’m going to go look back and see that is my greatest fight,” Maia said of his UFC Singapore Fight of the Night performance. “Because, for me, all the people that like grappling were really, really excited for this fight for many years. He’s a unique guy; he represents wresting in a unique way and everything he does is to use his wrestling. I think maybe we were the only two guys that do that really proudly today. For my career and for my legacy it was a very important fight and I had a lot of pressure going into that fight because of that.”
Now that his showdown with Askren is in the rearview mirror, Maia has set his sights back on finishing his career on his terms. One of the things that Maia wanted most was the opportunity to fight in Brazil as much as possible, and on Saturday he will get his wish at least one more time.
“I will think if I want to do just one more fight or do more. As for now, I’m planning to finish this year and finish my career as an MMA athlete,” Maia said. “Maybe I will do this fight and after Saturday I hope to do one more fight before the end of the year and end my career hopefully with wins.”
No matter the result of Maia’s match with Burns and the fights that will follow, it’s been one heck of a ride with one of the game’s best.
You’re not going to want to miss one of Maia’s last bouts. Make sure you tune into UFC Brasilia this Saturday.
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