Demian Maia is headed into UFC 131 with his sights solely focused on the hard hitting wrestler, Mark Munoz. A victory that could put Maia back into a position atop the middleweight contenders for Silva's title.
Maia is regarded as one of if not the best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner on the UFC roster. That has also been Maia's largest problem as that is all that he was known for until he was forced to refocus upon his skills after his one-sided loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 112.
During his fight with Silva, it became evident that Maia was completely reliant on getting the fight to the ground where he could implement his BJJ techniques. The problem was though, that Maia was never close to getting Silva to the mat as the middleweight champion dominated Maia during the first three rounds.
The fight then turned into one of the oddest fights ever witnessed when Silva basically stopped fighting and started running for unknown reasons to this day, as Maia attempted to push forward.
Since that loss, fans have started to see a whole different Demian Maia. Maia has refocused his training as he tries to evolve as a complete mixed martial artist. He has worked very hard on his stand-up game, training diligently while working boxing coach Luis Dorea. Dorea, a well-respected boxing instructor has trained the art of boxing to many MMA fighters that include Junior Dos Santos, Rodrigo Nogueira and Rogerio Nogueira.
In case anyone didn't see Maia's last fight where Maia displayed his stand-up skills against the seven inch reach advantage of the Muay thai fighter, Kendall Grove. Maia dominated all three rounds on his way to earning the unanimous decision victory which displayed the overall game Maia was working on developing.
Maia has also been working on improving his wrestling ability at Chicago based Overtime Academy where he learns from two-time NCAA champion Jake Herbert and also learning from Josuel Distak in both wrestling and striking. Even as Mark Munoz has studied film on Maia, he has commented on how Maia looks more like a wrestler on top of his opponent than a BJJ fighter that lacks top control.
The fight between Munoz and Maia will indeed be an important bout for both fighters. Maia will be looking to find out how much his ability as a striker and wrestler have come as he tries to take-down and strike with the former NCAA champion. Munoz will be getting his opportunity to defeat a top-five middleweight while possibly getting to prove how good his ground game is, as he looks to become a real contender at middleweight.
As for the middleweight division, Demian Maia is looking to make his claim for the No. 2 position behind Anderson Silva. Maia may be the most quiet contender as he is often overlooked with the other contenders inside the division such as Chael Sonnen, Jason Mayhem Miller and Michael Bisping. All of which may not have the skills that Maia possess.
A win over Munoz will increase Maia's win/loss record to 15-2, with a 9-2 UFC record and a three-fight win streak. Maia has defeated the currently suspended Chael Sonnen by first round submission while his two losses came to middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the recently downsized welterweight Nate Marquardt.
At 33 years of age for both Maia and Munoz, this matchup is a must-win for both combatants. For Maia though, a dominant win can place him in a position for a chance to redeem himself against Anderson SIlva.