When Rory MacDonald steps into the cage against Demian Maia at UFC 170, he is in for a serious test.
While many think a victory for MacDonald is as easy as pumping his jab and maintaining a safe distance, the truth is that it’s going to take more than that.
Maia is a terribly intelligent fighter who can anticipate like few others. On the feet, he’s not even close to being the best man in any division, but on the ground he’s a nightmare.
Maia has managed to defeat Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Gabriel Gonzaga in grappling competition. Both are bigger and stronger with a grappling game well beyond MacDonald, and that is just the beginning.
In MMA, Maia is wickedly adept at catching fighters with a submission when in the midst of a transition, and to that end he can set things up flawlessly. One example of this was seen when he surprised Chael Sonnen by throwing him to the mat and locking up a triangle leg choke as Sonnen rolled him over.
He’s just one of those rare fighters that can get the fight to the ground in ways you would not expect. He doesn’t always succeed, but if he can grab hold of an opponent who is willing to grapple with him for a moment, he can close the show very quickly.
To avoid this fate, MacDonald needs to avail himself of some very basic yet important strategies. When used together, they could see him victorious, just as they have so many others.
Here are the keys to victory for Rory MacDonald: utterly basic, tried and true.