Demian Maia vs. Josh Koscheck: Head-to-Toe Breakdown
A recently booked UFC 163 contest will pit welterweights Josh Koscheck and Demian Maia against each other.
The pairing presents a couple of foes at vastly dissimilar parts of their respective careers. Koscheck is attempting to cling to relevance, while Maia is zooming toward a title shot.
But when we assess the matchup between the two, it is an unmistakably dangerous fight for either party that presents an intriguing clash of styles.
Here we will take a look at the fight between Koscheck and Maia and examine how it is likely to play out. We will assess which fighter has an edge in each of the striking, wrestling and submission areas of the game and use those assessments to project the probable winner.
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Koscheck entered the UFC as a wrestler but has gone to his striking more than any other tool over the past several years. It has brought him a great deal of success, but he has also been outclassed on the feet a few times, most recently against Robbie Lawler.
However, his UFC 163 opponent won't be much of a threat to knock him out, so Koscheck may attempt to keep things upright.
He has the power and ability to do significant damage to Maia, but he can't get overconfident or we may see a repeat of his knockout loss to Paulo Thiago.
Maia's striking has improved over the years, but it's only recently become a true asset. The determining factor was when he realized it best serves as an entry to the clinch or a takedown, rather than a vehicle for damage.
The advantage here might not be as big as some would think, but it still rests with Koscheck. The real edge comes in the form of power, as Koscheck could end Maia's night with a single strike, while Maia doing the same to Koscheck is unlikely.
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Koscheck is an NCAA national champion in wrestling, which gives you an idea of just how skilled he is.
True, he was outwrestled by Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks to a lesser extent, but both of those opponents are superb wrestlers in their own right.
The question heading into UFC 163 isn't so much whether Koscheck can take Maia down, but rather, will he even try to or instead be content to keep things standing?
He isn't known as a wrestler, but maybe it's time that he receives some credit for being one.
He took down Dong Hyun Kim easily enough and then did the same to Rick Story three times within half a round. Then he took down yet another strong wrestler in Jon Fitch seven times.
Maia might not hit on every takedown attempt he launches, but he launches a lot and no one at 170 has been able to shut him down yet.
Don't be shocked if he's able to get the more accomplished Koscheck to the mat.
It's difficult to argue with the credentials, but wrestling is still an area Koscheck has to worry about. Maia has pursued the takedown with such ferocity lately that anyone is at risk.
The edge goes to Koscheck, but as in striking, it's smaller than you might assume.
Grappling and Submissions
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Koscheck owns five career submission wins, but just one of those has come within the past six years. He's no longer one to hunt for arms, legs or necks with much commitment, preferring instead to maintain dominant position and implement ground-and-pound.
Defensively, Koscheck's grappling is sound. He's only been submitted once, and that was a long time back. Of course, Maia might be the best grappler he is ever going to roll with inside the Octagon.
There is a direct correlation between the success Maia has achieved as a UFC fighter and how willing he has been to rely on his jiu-jitsu. The more he goes to it, the better he does.
Submissions haven't come with the same frequency they did when Maia first started out in the UFC, but he remains a threat to stop the action against anyone. He is also apt at controlling fighters, keeping them down and on the defensive.
Maia's submission defense is impeccable, and there is next to no chance he will be threatened by Koscheck's attempts.
Maia is dangerous in any position, but he would love to get Koscheck on his back. He has a clear advantage here and will likely look to make full use of it at UFC 163.
The Bottom Line
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Koscheck needs a win at UFC 163 more than he's ever needed one in his career. A loss would mark his third straight and could be the end of his UFC tenure.
In order to avoid another loss, look for the American to keep upright and hunt for the knockout blow. He'll need to remain poised and patient in his approach, though, or risk being tied up and dragged to the mat.
Since dropping to welterweight, Maia has looked remarkably dangerous. He has recommitted to bringing opponents to the ground and keeping them there, and there are few better at doing so than him.
His wrestling has been outstanding of late, and he'll need it to click one more time, since Koscheck's takedown defense is so strong.
If Koscheck is preoccupied with stuffing Maia's takedowns, the Brazilian may even be able to outpoint his foe on the feet. A stoppage there is improbable, but a victory is entirely reasonable.
Projected Winner: Maia
The matchup is a good one, but from what the Brazilian has shown of late, he looks like a better all-around mixed martial artist than Koscheck right now.
Koscheck is the superior wrestler, but I see Maia taking him down enough to convince the judges that he deserves a hard-earned W.
Maia def. Koscheck via unanimous decision