Time and time again, Muhammad avoided takedown attempts from Maia while showing incredible balance throughout the fight and then fired back with a technical boxing attack on the feet to win nearly every exchange.
When the fight was over, the judges scored the fight 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28 with Muhammad winning the unanimous decision while staying undefeated in his past six fights in a row.
Never one to hide his intentions, Maia swooped in early to grab onto a leg in order to drag Muhammad down to the ground in what ended up as his only takedown in the entire fight. Despite hitting the mat momentarily, Muhammad was quick to break free of the grappling exchange in order to get back to his feet.
While Muhammad was able to connect with a couple of solid punches, he spent the majority of the round fending off a slew of wrestling attempts from Maia.
As time passed, Muhammad was starting to land with a hard left hand that was tagging Maia on the chin as the Brazilian was still trying to find an opening to grab onto a leg again. The problem was Maia’s movement was much more labored and deliberate, which allowed Muhammad to avoid his grappling and then open up with more offense from his striking combinations.
It was clear Muhammad was really settling into a rhythm as he continuously switched stances and then he’d inevitably find an opening for a fast, straight left or come back over the top with a big hook. Despite Maia not taking a huge amount of damage, he was still eating a lot of punches from Muhammad and that was ultimately the difference in the fight.
Muhammad has been searching for that signature win over a top 10 ranked opponent and now he’ll likely find himself occupying Maia’s spot in the near future. Meanwhile, Maia just competed in the final fight of his current UFC contract, although there’s no word yet if this will be the last time he competes during his career.