LAS VEGAS -- UFC 194's battle of welterweight jiu-jitsu players lived up to the hype.
Brazilian veteran Demian Maia and young Icelandic hotshot Gunnar Nelson took to the mat at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night and put on a display which would have pleased even the most hardcore Metamoris fan.
But in the end, the old dog showed he still has some tricks left up his sleeve, as he outworked his SBG opponent for a unanimous decision victory. The judges' scores were 30-26, 30-25, and 30-25.
"I believe in my jiu-jitsu," Maia (22-6) said. "I come to grapple. Gunnar Nelson asked for this fight and I came to fight."
Nelson opened fast and made the first notable move of the fight as he got a guillotine on his opponent. But after escaping, in the blink of an eye, Maia not only got a standing Nelson's back, but managed to effortlessly transition it into a full mount on the mat.
Maia schooled Nelson (14-2-1) on the mat for most of the rest of the round and sunk in a deep armbar late, though Nelson showed poise in managing to escape.
The second was a borderline 10-8 round as Maia again had his way with Nelson on the mat. He bloodied Nelson with violent elbows as the round wound to its conclusion.
If there was any doubt left, Maia dominated the third, as well, continuing to work from Nelson's back. When he wasn't landing punches, he was working for submissions. Nelson slipped into top position in the closing seconds, but it was far too little, too late.
"I have nine fights in this division," Maia said. "I am 7-2 and have defeated ranked guys. I want the winner of Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler."