Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
LAS VEGAS -- The UFC welterweight division has a new contender, Demian Maia. The Brazilian grappling specialist notched arguably the most significant victory of his career at UFC 156, stifling longtime divisional star Jon Fitch en route to a unanimous decision win.
All three judges scored it 30-27 for Maia.
The surprise was not necessarily that Maia won, it was how he did it, taking Fitch down repeatedly, earning seven takedowns overall in the three-round bout. That kept Fitch on the defensive and never let him get off his offense. For example, in the first round, Maia landed 34 strikes to Fitch's six.
Most of that round, Maia spent on Fitch's back, using strikes to attempt to set up a rear naked choke. Fitch, who has never been tapped out in his UFC career, defended well as usual, but had trouble getting back to his feet.
Maia was able to repeat that process for most of the same, meaning that when the third round began, Fitch would have needed his first finish win since June 2006 -- 11 fights ago -- in order to escape with the victory.
It didn't come, although he briefly threatened with a choke midway through. From there on, it was more of the same with Maia dragging him down and hunting for submission attempts.
Maia is now 18-4 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the division. Fitch dropped to 24-5-1 with 1 no contest.
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