Demian Maia: UFC's Next Middleweight Champion

Matt RandallCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2009

After watching Thales Leites flip and flop around like a fish out of water against Anderson Silva at UFC 97, you would think grappling wizards don't stand a chance against the middleweight champion.

In fact, you might actually just think it means a boring fight which no one really wants to see, enter Demian Maia.

Demian Maia has one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu records in the world, he has won many grappling tournaments, he is the 2007 ADCC Submission Wrestling world champion, the 2007 Super Challenge under 83 kgs. Champion and the 2006 Pan American Champion.

His grappling credentials list is as long as anyone in the game today, and his MMA record is starting to catch up to the elite in the division. 

Maia holds a perfect 10-0 record finishing eight of his fights via submission.

Sounds a lot like Thales Leites right? Wrong. The difference is that Maia is more rounded than Leites, he is working hard on his stand-up and it's only getting better and better.

Training at Wand Fight Team, with Wanderlei Silva and Shogun Rua, it's only going to get better and better.

Maia, is facing his toughest opponent to date at UFC 102 in Nate Marquardt and if he can pull out another victory, I think he should get his shot at the title.

Demian, is coming off two impressive victories over over Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry, both finishing them in the first round with submissions. 

The last time he went to a decision was in 2006, since then he has had six submission victories and one TKO due to shoulder injury.

If Maia is able to get by Nate, and I believe he will, I think he will be able to get inside on Nate, pull guard and make him tap. I think his stand-up has improved enough to step inside the cage with Nate and I think after this fight, his name will be added to the list of fighters in line for Anderson Silva.

I don't think Anderson is going to have any problems fighting against this Brazilian, we all have heard about the dislike that Wanderlei and Anderson have for each other and I think Anderson would like nothing more to shut down a fighter from Wandy's camp.

However, even though Anderson is looking as amazing as he ever has, I think Maia's ground game is just too strong for him to deal with. We saw it against Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson, where Anderson does not like to be on his back and Maia is a master grappler who could just smother Anderson. 

Different than Hendo and Lutter, Maia just smothers people, he has a very heavy top game and is quick to pass and mount. He is constantly rolling from submission from submission and loves to use a submission attempt to transition into another submission.

Another thing that makes Maia different from Leites, Maia doesn't need to try for the traditional take-down to get on top of Anderson. He doesn't need to shoot in for the double or single leg, he just needs to touch you, and he will pull guard and suck you down with him.

He is a master of getting fights to the ground, quickly and easily, and doesn't mind if he has to be on the bottom in order to do so.

Maia has only had five fights in the UFC and has five submission victories, four of them winning submission of the night honours. Look for Maia to continue this streak against Nate.

When Maia gets by Nate Marquardt at UFC 102, look for him to earn a title shot in the near future. Just make sure you don't sleep on Demian Maia or he just might put you to sleep.