UFC 170: Is Mike Pyle Better Than Ever, Demian Maia Done as Contender?

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UFC 170: Is Mike Pyle Better Than Ever, Demian Maia Done as Contender?
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of the quick finishes put forth by champion Ronda Rousey and top contender Daniel Cormier, UFC 170 offered some good, old-fashioned veteran action.

Two of those recognizable names were welterweights Mike Pyle and Demian Maia.

Both coming off their own heart-breaking and frustrating defeats, each UFC mainstay was aiming to impress and start off 2014 on a good note.

Unfortunately, only Pyle escaped Saturday's Las Vegas main card with a victory, ending TJ Waldburger late in the third round. Maia lost to Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision.

Now, while neither welterweight is close to challenging for a title—even though Maia was recently considered a fathomable option to do so—it's still important to understand their careers may be heading in opposite directions.

On one hand you have Pyle, a true veteran of the sport who often excels late into fights by tapping into an endless holster of experience and raw gusto.

Since the beginning of 2012, "Quicksand" has sunk every one of his opponents besides the red-hot Matt Brown back in August. His resurgence over the past two years has included three TKOs and one knockout, which stands as one of his most impressive stretches of finishes in his lengthy career.

Waldburger isn't a top threat in the division, but a win over him not only proved Pyle can rebound from a crushing defeat so late into his career, but it proved he could out-craft a younger and more athletic opponent.

His victory was truly a step in the right direction as he works his way to the welterweight's Top 10.

On the other hand we have Demain Maia, a Brazilian submission specialist well known for his ability to grind an opponent down to sheer bone.

But what became evident at UFC 170 when Maia was defeated by MacDonald—even despite his recent success as a newly positioned threat in the welterweight division—is that the 36-year-old is on the last legs of his career.

Coming into his fight with MacDonald, a superior athlete who pushes the pace from the first round to the last, Maia had to know his conditioning would be called into question. He had to know he would need to be in the best shape of his life.

Unfortunately for Maia, in a loss that showcased his inability to maintain fluency and consistency following an early fight energy dump, he was more than likely in the best shape of his career and still looked like a suffocating catfish.

So what does this mean? It's pretty simple. Another defining defeat at the hands of a more athletic competitor and the Brazilian will start to be scratched off many lists around the sport.

 

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