RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Demian Maia started his UFC career with five straight submission victories between 2007 and 2009, but has only tapped one opponent in the following 14 bouts. Who’s to blame?
Maia, a multiple time jiu-jitsu and grappling champion, hasn’t submitted anyone but Rick Story since suffering his first professional loss to Nate Marquardt in 2009, and says that the lack of finishes is his opponent’s fault.
"People always go to the ground with me trying to just hold me. They stall and wait for the referee to stand them back up so they can start it all over," Maia told the media during a UFC media day recently in Rio de Janeiro.
"It’s hard to fight jiu-jitsu like that, the way rules are today. If we fought like the old days, with no time limit, it would be better to work. We only have five minutes to work per round so it’s complicated, especially because everybody knows that my ground game is good."
Maia will have one more chance to win via submission on March 21, when he headlines UFC Fight Night 62 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, against Blackzilians prospect Ryan LaFlare.
Undefeated in the UFC, LaFlare outgrappled Santiago Ponzinibbio in his first trip to Brazil in 2013, and Maia changed his training camp for this match-up.
"I’m doing my camp in Las Vegas," said Maia, who’s also working with Mauricio Rua at TUF: Brazil 4, "training with Robert Drysdale and Marcelo Garcia, and also using the UFC Gym to hit pads with my boxing coach."
UFC Fight Night 62 will mark Maia’s first fight since a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Yakovlev in May. The jiu-jitsu expert was forced out of a welterweight clash with Mike Pyle in August due to a bone infection, and is finally cleared to get back in action.
"I’m 100 percent now," he said. "It was a tough moment for me. I had a terrible bone infection on my shoulder and was in bad shape, especially after my third trip to the hospital. When I recovered, I started training hard and felt great for this fight."
A former middleweight title contender, Maia is ranked No. 7 in the welterweight division, and hopes to move up the rankings with a win over No. 15 welterweight LaFlare in Brazil.
"He’s ranked below me, but he’s undefeated. He’s a tough guy for never losing. It’s always hard to fight athletes who never lost," Maia said. "He always puts his opponents in tough situations. About the title, I’m ranked No. 7 and I hope to move up with a win. But I don’t want to be too obsessed about it. I want to think about this fight only."