RIO DE JANEIRO – Though he might have run out of gas towards the end, Demian Maia completely dominated Ryan LaFlare on Saturday night in the main event of UFC Fight Night 62 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And though he’s happy with the victory, he's not completely satisfied with his performance.
Fighting for the first time since getting sidelined with a life-threatening shoulder infection that sent him to the hospital on three separate occasions, Maia was originally scheduled to meet the American LaFlare in a three-round contest. However, the fight was bumped into the main event slot when Urijah Faber vs. Raphael Assuncao was cancelled, thus making for a five-round affair.
"The first rounds were good, I dominated them, but I didn’t train for a long time," Maia said at the post-fight press conference. "It’s not an excuse. I want another five-round fight, and I will be better next time, no doubt about it. It wasn’t easy to go through what I’ve been through.
"I dominated the first four rounds, and the fifth round was his. It’s hard to stay out of training for three months like I did. I never stayed so long without training. It’s not an excuse. I knew it would be tough if the fight went to the fourth round. I got tired, of course, everybody saw that. But I will get better and be ready for five rounds."
A jiu-jitsu expert, Maia took LaFlare down several times during the five-round fight, but only came close to the finish once. He admits that not using more elbows and punches to create openings is an ongoing mistake he needs to work on.
"Jiu-jitsu teaches you not to hurt your opponent, and that’s inside of me," he said. "That’s why I didn’t use the elbow when I was in a dominant position. But of course, that’s a weapon and I have to get better on this aspect.
"I’m a jiu-jitsu guy and that’s my root. I will always go for the submission instead of hurting my opponent. That’s why I love jiu-jitsu, this is the best martial art in the world. It’s an art that seeks the peace, to dominate your opponent. But, as an athlete, I know I have to get better, use more elbows. And I will get better. I locked an arm-triangle and did my best to submit, but I couldn’t. But I can’t complain. I wanted the win and I got it."
Maia moves to 5-2 since cutting down to the welterweight division, while LaFlare drops to 4-1 in the Octagon after suffering the first loss of his professional career.