UFC 156: Why Demian Maia Deserves a Shot at the GSP vs. Nick Diaz Winner

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IFebruary 2, 2013

Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa
Photo Credit: UFC/Zuffa

Sometimes, the arduous task of dropping a weight class turns you from a good fighter into a world-class elite threat.

That's exactly what happened to "elite strangle expert" Demian Maia, as he's gone from middleweight title contention to welterweight title contention in less than four years.

It's an incredible achievement for someone who was once an afterthought at 185 pounds.

Now, Maia has an extremely good case for challenging the next welterweight champion, whether it's Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz.

Few men have completely dominated Fitch like Maia did on Saturday at UFC 156, and despite the rampant jeering from the bloodthirsty Las Vegas crowd, all 15 minutes of that fight was a breathtaking sight.

From the first round, Maia stuck to Fitch's back like a curse, sinking in underhooks, dragging him to the floor, grabbing limbs and doing damn near everything he could to keep the advantage.

Poor Fitch just uncharacteristically looked out of his depth, even illegally grabbing the cage fence at two points in the match.

Only St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks have trounced Fitch so badly, and in each case, both men battered the American Kickboxing Academy veteran on the feet, with GSP making his foe look like a murder victim.

But if Maia can smother the best wrestlers in the division, maybe he can provide a stiff test for the division's next champion.

With Georges St-Pierre, the question is whether "Rush" has the wrestling and the grappling skills to manage and stop Maia's relentless, octopus-like jiu-jitsu attack.

But against Nick Diaz, the contest is just as multifaceted.

Not only is Diaz a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but he's also a dangerous boxer who wears men down with volume attacks. Maia's striking skills have come a long way, but with his expert ground game, there's no telling where that fight would go.

If Joe Silva and Dana White aren't going to give Hendricks his fair shot (or if "Bigg Rigg" loses at UFC 158), they need to get the next best thing going and put Maia into the title picture.


McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.