Demian Maia made his welterweight debut at UFC 148 with a first-round TKO victory over Dong Hyun Kim. The stoppage marked his first non-decision win since a triangle choke against Chael Sonnen in 2009.
He will get his second in a row over Rick Story at UFC 153.
His victory over Kim was a result of an injury, but an injury stemming from Maia's takedown. Do not expect a clouded stoppage against Story.
Story burst on to the welterweight scene with back-to-back victories over Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves. He then jumped in on short notice to fight Nate Marquardt at UFC Live in June 2011.
Marquardt failed to receive medical clearance and then Charlie Brenneman stepped in. His win streak stopped that night. Story then tried to rebound against another top contender in Martin Kampmann, but was defeated at UFC 139.
The “Horror” Story got back on track with a decision victory over Brock Jardine in June, but Maia will show that he is simply a solid gatekeeper for the UFC's 170-pound division.
Story has heavy hands and good wrestling, but that is nothing new for Maia. At middleweight he has fought against the likes of Ed Herman, Nate Quarry, Chael Sonnen, Nate Marquardt, Dan Miller, Mark Munoz, and Chris Weidman. In one facet or the other, and in some cases both, Story does not equal those men.
Maia will be even more acclimated to the new division. This will help him be prepared for a three-round battle against Story.
Story will want to keep the fight on the feet, but if there has been one area where Maia has improved his technique it is his striking. He continues to become a more technical striker in each of his bouts, and does not rely on power like Story.
While Story is very much a live underdog in this matchup, he does not have many ways to finish the fight. At some point in this fight, the two men will end up on the mat. That is where Maia will return to his finishing ways and stop Story.
Maia began his UFC career with five consecutive submissions, with four of those being named submission of the night. Nine fights have now passed with zero submission wins—that changes on Saturday night.
The Brazilian will be able to withstand the striking exchanges and clinch with Story. From that position, Maia is able to take down most in the world. His wrestling may not be the best, but his takedowns from the clinch are excellent.
Once he is on top, you can start your stopwatch for the finish.
Maia will grab his second win at welterweight and assert himself as a true factor in the division. Story is an excellent gatekeeper for the division, and Maia will walk through to the other side.