In the main event of UFC Chile this past weekend, Kamaru Usman won a five-round unanimous decision over Demian Maia. In a relatively uneventful fight, Maia was unable to impose his grappling advantage on the young wrestler, losing a pretty clear decision. But at least one notable MMA figure believes Maia was given short shrift on Saturday night.
Speaking on the UFC Unfiltered podcast, former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra said that Maia got “screwed” by referee Leon Roberts who “possibly could have cost him the fight” when Roberts separated Maia and Usman during the first round when Maia nearly had Usman’s back along the cage.
“This is the thing, he had his back,” said Serra. “I was not surprised the way things went after that. You have one shot sometimes in a fight like this, especially because he didn’t have a camp. People do not understand. That’s why I predicted a first-round choke by Demian Maia. He was on his way there.
“They weren’t just holding each other up against the cage. It might have looked like it but Kamaru had an overhook and that overhook was the only thing stopping Demian from taking that back. It was a very awkward position where [Usman] was not getting out of that. The only way he could look to free himself was to let go and expose his back. Otherwise, you’re just stalling. Now, could he keep that up for another minute and 15 seconds or whatever it was? Maybe. If so, alright, let’s see what happens in round two. Or, with thirty seconds left, he could try to scramble and still get strangled.
“Just in the montage before he walks out look at how many times he’s strangled guy - powerful wrestlers like Rick Story, gutty, gritty guys who do not tap easily like Carlos Condit or Matt Brown. This is not a coincidence. So for [Roberts] to take away his one shot, Leon Roberts, you should be ashamed of yourself and I think you possibly could have cost him the fight. Leon, you f**ked up, Leon. You really did.”
The moment Serra references was one of the lone bright spots for Maia on the evening. The BJJ world champion was unable to get the fight to the floor, going 0 for 15 on takedowns and was never able to secure another position like the one Roberts took away from him in the first round. That could be in part because Maia did not have a full training camp for this fight. Usman was originally set to face Santiago Ponzinibbio in the main event but Ponzinibbio withdrew due to injury and Maia stepped up with only three weeks’ notice for a five-round fight and it’s that last point that really sticks in Serra’s craw.
“Are you getting influenced because you’re maybe hearing some boos in the crowd or something?” said Serra. “Your job is not to make this s**t entertaining. It’s one thing if a guy is stalling.
“I get worked up because Demian Maia took that fight like a f**king warrior and he saved that card and he had his position, he had what he wanted. He was this close! We don’t know what would have happened!”
As a quite possibly the most unlikely champion in UFC history, Serra knows the importance of small opportunities in MMA, and unfortunately, the loss likely closes the door on Maia’s title aspirations and that is a tough pill to swallow for Serra.
“I am so livid! I’m livid over this ref!” exclaimed Serra. “This was his shot and he had him in a position! People can say what they want, that ref screwed him. Maybe he would have rode out the round but you never know. It was such a horrible thing to do to him because he never got that position back.”
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
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And if that video wasn’t enough for you, here’s another of the stitching. pic.twitter.com/7DNsftcirW— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 22, 2018
Trying to make it happen.
He's running. Answer that email @johnlineker Say yes and try to break those #HandsOfPillows on my head. I promise I walk out with the victory. (You probably know that though... keep acting like youre on vacation...) #UFC https://t.co/eE4QUajc4j— Bryan Caraway (@BryanCaraway) May 23, 2018
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.@Jon_Anik, my man! Sorry I’ve been busy training for my Superfight July 7 and playing Fortnite with @Drake since the @cavs completed a series sweep of the #1 seed Raptors to go to Eastern Conf Finals! https://t.co/MJPtSzwtg8— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) May 22, 2018
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Since my Mom never let me get a grill when I was younger . Take this Mom https://t.co/E6PbGtbqzY— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) May 23, 2018
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TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2004: Takanori Gomi recorded the fastest KO in Pride FC history, knocking out Ralph Gracie in six seconds at Pride Bushido 3.
2015: Daniel Cormier became the UFC light heavyweight champion when he submitted Anthony Johnson at UFC 187. In the co-main event that evening, Chris Weidman retained his middleweight title with a first-round stoppage of Vitor Belfort.
Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
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