Demian Maia’s been in a UFC title fight, earned almost a handful of “Submission of the Night” bonuses, and went 25 minutes with the best fighter to ever step foot in a cage.

But despite all of his accomplishments, he still has one glaring hole on his resume.

Like every other fighter that’s entered the UFC’s middleweight division since 2006, Maia has been unable to get his hands on a UFC belt, and his title opportunity can only be described as a colossal failure.

When you’re stuck in the same division as one of the most lethal fighters on the planet it’s tough to reach the pinnacle of success, and Maia was a very solid contender in a division that has seen every single fighter that has been lucky enough to earn a title shot sent to the back of the line.

However, if Maia ever wanted to become a true title threat in the UFC again, he had to make a change, and his drop to welterweight earlier this year is proof that he still has the desire to become an elite fighter in the sport.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist went back to his roots against a very solid opponent in Dong Hyun Kim in his debut at 170 pounds, rushing in and securing a quick takedown to get the fight to the floor.

Unfortunately, the fight was called off soon after due to an injury to Kim, but the fact that Maia went back to the ground game that made him a contender to begin with pleased a lot of fans that had grown weary of the Brazilian’s tendency to get into striking battles over his last few bouts.

If Maia is able to stick to that blueprint and work his world-class submission skills in his next few fights at welterweight, he could be a very serious threat to a lot of fighters in his new division.

More than any other weight class in the UFC, the welterweight division is stacked with high-level wrestlers, with Georges St-Pierre, Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch becoming mainstays in the top ten due to their ability to throw their opponents on the mat and keep them there.

This should play right into Maia’s hands, and he has a chance to remind us how dangerous he can be against a talented wrestler when he fights Rick Story at UFC 153 this weekend. Story is a solid welterweight contender, having beaten big names like Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger during his MMA career, and a submission win for Maia would make a huge statement to the rest of the division.

Maia has the skills to get the win this weekend, but if he finds a way to take out Story, his level of competition is going to skyrocket.

Top contenders like Martin Kampmann, Rory MacDonald and the aforementioned Ellenberger are all hungry for their first shot at UFC gold, and there’s little doubt that any of those men would love to add a big name like Maia to their resume.

As good as Maia is on the mat, he’s going to have the same problems against the elite fighters at 170 as he did at middleweight.

The best fighters in MMA find ways to negate their opponent’s strengths, and it’s not hard to imagine Maia struggling when he is unable to take some of the brighter stars in the division to the mat.

When he’s working for submissions and tossing guys like Chael Sonnen to the mat, Maia is one of the most effective fighters in the UFC today. The problem is that he’s just not quite good enough to impose his will on the elite fighters in the sport, and his welterweight run is going to end the exact same way his middleweight career did, without a UFC belt around his waist.

Photo: Demian Maia (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.