Demian Maia is not ready to call it a career in MMA just yet.
A veteran of 33 octagon appearances with wins over the likes of Jorge Masvidal, Carlos Condit, Ben Askren, Jon Fitch and Chael Sonnen, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace completed his contract with the UFC after a loss to Belal Muhammad in June.
UFC President Dana White said “that’s probably it” as far as his UFC career goes, but Maia is not convinced.
“It has happened other times, we’ve all seen it before, the company changing their stance and plans,” Maia said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “It depends a lot on what happens in the market.”
Maia has twice fought for UFC titles, challenging Anderson Silva at middleweight and seven years later facing welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. He came up short in both attempts. He was on a three-fight winning streak over Lyman Good, Anthony Rocco Martin and Ben Askren prior to his most recent setbacks against Gilbert Burns and Belal Muhammad, and he said “my desire is to do one more MMA fight in the UFC.”
“I’ve fought my entire life in the UFC. That’s my home,” Maia said. “I want to do one last fight there, and I think it depends on what happens in Brazil. That’s a feeling my manager and I have. If they are having shows with fans here soon, I think that will draw interest from the UFC to have me fighting. I’m waiting and seeing what happens, but I do want to fight one last fight. I’m still training twice a day.”
In the meantime, Maia continues to run his jiu-jitsu school in Sao Paulo, finish his book, record new editions of his podcast and videos for his own YouTube page, and run a new show answering questions from fans on UFC Brasil’s official YouTube page.
“Besides all that, I’m getting a lot of offers to compete in jiu-jitsu,” Maia said. “No gi, or with the gi eventually as well. That’s something I really want to do soon. That’s something I’ll probably do besides fighting MMA.”
Maia is sponsored by Spyder, a company that holds jiu-jitsu events in South Korea, but he has also been approached by grappling promotions in Brazil and United States.
“Chael [Sonnen] has a promotion in the United States, Submission Underground, and he talked to me about the possibility of facing someone there,” Maia said. “I think it would be cool to face someone from MMA [in jiu-jitsu] because of the [attention] that name would bring.
“If I face someone from the new generation of jiu-jitsu, he might have a name in the jiu-jitsu [community] but that’s a niche thing. If I get an MMA guy… Let me give you an example: Sonnen texted me after my last fight asking if I was interested in facing Tony Ferguson or Kamaru Usman. That’s the type of match that would not only appeal to the jiu-jitsu community but also MMA and everyone that likes fights in any way.”
Maia explains he didn’t accept Sonnen’s offer because he had just fought Muhammad in the octagon, and he was hoping that a fight with Nate Diaz would materialize. The Diaz brothers, as well as Donald Cerrone, are names that interest him for his final MMA bout.
As far as jiu-jitsu goes, a trilogy match with recently retired Ronaldo Souza could be too much since “Jacare” “is 30 pounds heavier than me” today. The two met twice in 2015, with Souza winning the no-gi match at ADCC and Maia coming out on top in jiu-jitsu.
In MMA, in the event that White doesn’t approach with an offer to compete, Maia, currently a free agent, won’t close the door for other promotions just yet. But he isn’t likely to take it, either.
“That’s hard to say… Actually, no, my initial answer would be no,” Maia said of fighting MMA outside the UFC. “I don’t want to fight in some place else, I want to be in the UFC, but I do have a big dream of fighting MMA in Japan. But I haven’t thought about it. If there was a huge promotion like in the PRIDE days, sometimes I think about it. But the first plan, if you ask me, is to do my last fight in the UFC.”