Demian Maia vs. Jon Fitch: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
UFC 153 was a big night for welterweights.
Jon Fitch returned to the Octagon for the first time since December 2011 and picked up an important victory. He earned Fight of the Night honors alongside Erick Silva.
In the opening bout of the pay-per-view, Demian Maia moved to 2-0 in the division with a complete destruction of Rick Story.
Both men proved that they are still at the top of their game and are ready to move into title contention. A good way to find out who should get that opportunity would be to pit the UFC 153 winners against one another.
Here is a look at how this fight breaks down.
Neither combatant is an expert striker.
Demian Maia has consistently improved over the years but still remains a lackluster striker. Jon Fitch, on the other hand, is much more comfortable on the feet.
Both fighters have been inside the Octagon with elite strikers. If they meet inside the Octagon, neither fighter will see anything he hasn't seen before.
Fitch is simply the most comfortable fighter on the feet, and that gives him a small advantage in the striking department.
The former Purdue wrestling captain holds a grappling edge, but he will need to be wary of the Brazilian in close quarters.
Demian Maia's wrestling is not great, but from the clinch, he is deceptive and can take down anyone.
Jon Fitch is the overall better grappler. His grinding style is now infamous inside the cage. He loves to take his opponents to the mat and break their will over the duration of a fight.
Due to Maia's abilities from the clinch, this category is most likely closer than most fans think. And should Fitch put the fight to the ground, he could open a whole other set of problems.
Jon Fitch may have a reputation of being unchokeable, but he has not faced someone like Demian Maia inside the Octagon.
Maia is on another level in the submission department. He could be the first person to submit Fitch since his MMA debut against Mike Pyle in 2002 should the fight go to the ground.
Fitch has survived several submission attempts throughout his UFC career. At UFC 153, Erick Silva had a deep rear naked choke on Fitch, but the Big Ten alum stayed composed and survived. It is unlikely he would survive the same position against Maia.
Submission defense will have to be a point of emphasis for Fitch in this fight. He can avoid being submitted, but that is a tall order to ask of anyone against someone like Maia.
Jon Fitch's X-Factor: Submission Defense
Fitch's grinding style will be put to the test against Demian Maia. He will undoubtedly want to take the fight to the ground at some point in the fight, and when he does, he will enter Maia's world.
His awareness on the ground while trying to deliver punishment of his own will be key. If he gets sloppy, he will be tapped out.
Demian Maia's X-Factor: Striking
If Fitch wins the striking battle, he may decide to keep the fight standing. Maia will have to at least threaten Fitch standing in the fight.
Maia can try to take down the wrestler, but should he fail, he will need to get Fitch to shoot in and take the fight to the mat. Maia winning a few striking exchanges will give Fitch reason to take the fight down.
He does not have to win each striking exchange, but he will need to show Fitch that he is dangerous on his feet.
Knowing both Demian Maia and Jon Fitch's fighting styles, one has to know this fight will hit the canvas. That is most likely where the fight will see the majority of its action.
Maia has looked fantastic at his new weight, and I am willing to step out on a limb to say that not only will he submit Fitch, but he will do so in the first five minutes.
When the fight goes to the mat early on in the first round, they will be dry. This will give Maia a chance to lock up a submission more quickly. And he will.
Maia will catch Fitch off guard and make him tap out. The quick victory would move Maia into prime position to contend for the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Prediction: Maia defeats Fitch via submission in the first round.