Demian Maia was on the rise in the UFC after three straight wins coming into his matchup with Jake Shields, but the 35-year-old may have squandered any hope he had at earning a fight with Georges St-Pierre in the future with a loss at UFC Fight Night 29.
The result of the Shields-Maia bout was a split decision, with Shields gaining the victory. It was his second such decision in his last two fights.
As for Maia, it's back to the drawing board—and it couldn't be a worse time, given his age. Maia was rising back to contention in the welterweight division after defeating Dong Hyun Kim, Rick Story and Jon Fitch. In fact, according to UFC.com, Maia was ranked No. 4 in the division and had a golden opportunity to move up.
While Shields did get the win, he is a tough fighter to match up with, so there's a chance Maia won't fall too far in the rankings. Even if that turns out to be the case, the fact that he lost to Shields proves he doesn't deserve a shot at St-Pierre's crown.
Maia was thought to have a great shot at facing and beating St-Pierre—or at least as great a shot as anyone has against the legend. Maia possesses great skills on the ground and has proven to be a submission master in the past, and he has the ability to control even the best wrestlers.
His victory over Jon Fitch was one of the more dominant victories Fitch has fallen victim to in his career, with the losses to St-Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks being about equal or worse.
That helped put Maia in a special class, and it looked as though he was on track to get a title shot in the near future.
After all, second-ranked Carlos Condit had already lost to GSP, and third-ranked Rory MacDonald had dropped a match to Condit back in 2010. Maia's ability to match up well with GSP also gave him an edge over the two fighters in front of him.
But all of that was erased Wednesday night. Shields got the better of Maia, and Shields lost by unanimous decision to GSP back 2011. Maia's loss to Shields shows he doesn't belong in the same fight as GSP now—or maybe ever.
At the very least, Maia took a big step back in his quest for a title shot. Should he be lucky enough to face GSP down the road, his loss to Shields shows he simply doesn't have the goods to beat the champ anyway.