Demian Maia is sticking with grappling after a long career in the UFC.
The 33-time octagon veteran is set to take on former UFC and WEC champion Benson Henderson, who steps onto the mat to grab it on Saturday at Polaris 20 in the UK.
Maia traveled to New York and Belém, Brazil to work with the legendary Marcelo Garcia and up-and-coming talents like Mica Galvão before the Polaris 20. Still, he doesn’t expect Henderson to bring the techniques more recent in the weekend of this weekend. jiu jitsu match.
“There’s something that MMA fighters have that jiu-jitsu guys don’t, and that’s the ability to do an anti-game really well,” Maia said on this week’s episode of the MMA Podcast. fighting. Trocação Franca. “MMA guys, if they don’t need to be on your toes, they won’t. They don’t accept positions, they explode out of positions like crazy. Meanwhile, guys jiu-jitsu sometimes think about it for a moment, which makes it a little easier, MMA guys will just explode out of a position like crazy – sometimes they’ll fall into a trap, but often they’ll make it harder.
Maia returned to grappling in April, just 10 months after his last UFC appearance, and knocked out fellow octagon veteran Alex Oliveira with a triangle choke in Sao Paulo, Brazil. According to the two-time UFC title challenger, switching from MMA to grappling allows you to use several techniques that wouldn’t be an option for MMA fights.
“There are certain positions that you don’t do in MMA because it exposes you too much, especially if you’re not on your back,” Maia said. “It’s too dangerous to do in MMA, and you can do it in jiu-jitsu. It gives you different options when you don’t have a punch coming.
In the past, MMA veterans battling decorated jiu-jitsu players have sometimes resulted in lackluster matches, like when Brendan Schaub infamously fought to a draw with ADCC champion Roberto “Cyborg “Abreu. Henderson, however, has been active in wrestling throughout his Bellator career, most recently beating Ben Saunders in a no-gi contest in Las Vegas, so Maia doesn’t expect Henderson to play along. Schaub.
“I hope he doesn’t. [stall], otherwise it’s too boring for the promotion and the audience,” Maia said. “In my case, in MMA, sometimes I was chasing the guy all the time, and it would be a boring fight because he was making an anti-play, and it wasn’t my fault. I never ran away from a fight , you know? When I was losing, I was always trying. Some people say, “Oh, Demian had that boring fight”, but it wasn’t my fault, my opponent would just do an anti-play and wouldn’t would not hire to try to knock me out.
“[Henderson] going for ankle locks and a few guillotines,” he continued, “but I think he’s pretty good defensively as well. He defends his back very well. He has a good game of jiu-jitsu and participates a lot, has experience. He’s a good jiu-jitsu guy.
Maia hasn’t ruled out participating in regular jiu-jitsu tournaments in the future after experiencing the atmosphere of a jiu-jitsu event in Sao Paulo.
“In jiu-jitsu, you only depend on yourself,” he said. “MMA is different. MMA is a show business, it’s not just a sport, and it depends on your ability to please the promoter into placing you in an interesting fight. Is there a sporty side? Yes. Can you win it? Sure. But it’s not just up to you. In jiu-jitsu, I don’t depend on someone who loves me to be able to participate in the world or Pan American championships, for example.
As someone who began his transition from pure grappling to MMA two decades ago, Maia likes what he saw from jiu-jitsu legend Marcus Buchecha, who is 3-0 as a weight. heavy in ONE Championship. Maia said Buchecha presents such a “cohesive” game, he has all the tools necessary to become the future of cage jiu-jitsu.
“‘Leozinho’ [Vieira], his coach, helped me in a few camps, and he saw the way we train, and I think he implements that in Buchecha’s training,” Maia said. “If he’s able to maintain that consistency and know how to use his jiu-jitsu at the right time without becoming an attacker and training the right way to get where he needs to be, I think he can become a great champion. and jiu-jitsu representing as I was, as Charles [Oliveira] is.”
Buchecha isn’t the first – and won’t be the last – jiu-jitsu great to dabble in MMA and vale tudo. The sport has seen legends try them out in the past, but not quite head first. Maia named Andre Galvao, Marcelinho Garcia, Alexandre Ribeiro and Roger Gracie, who have 28 world jiu-jitsu titles and 13 ADCC gold medals combined, as the sport’s greatest storylines.
“These are fighters who ended up not making it because they were doing so well in jiu-jitsu, [and] with a life structured around jiu-jitsu with gyms, seminars and classes, that it’s so hard to let go and do [MMA],” he said. “They were great jiu-jitsu champions but ended up not giving the sport a chance because they were like, ‘I’m going to have to drop everything to train in MMA, stop make money and teach seminars and classes, leave my gym aside, and the promoter ends up liking me or not?’ »
Galvao fought seven times in MMA between 2008 and 2010, going 5-2 with his last fight being a loss to eventual champion Tyron Woodley at Strikeforce. Gracie, 8-2 in MMA, fell short in his only UFC fight against Tim Kennedy but retired as the ONE Championship light heavyweight titleholder. Garcia’s only cage appearance ended in a doctor stoppage loss to Dae Won Kim at K-1 Hero’s in 2007, while Ribeiro decided not to continue in the sport after back-to-back knockout wins in Sengoku in the late 2000s.
“I would be very curious to see how they would fare if they continue,” Maia said. “Life took them somewhere else. Surrounded by a structure focused on their styles, I’m sure there’s no way it’s going to go wrong after all they’ve achieved in jiu-jitsu.
Maia said fighting in MMA for nearly two decades has given her plenty of knowledge to train other grapplers in the cage. He’s more than happy to open the doors of his Sao Paulo gym to welcome Mica Galvão, Felipe Pena and Fellipe Andrew if they ever decide to take the plunge.
“They have to know if they really like it, if they want to,” Maia said. “If you’re just doing it for the fame and the money, it doesn’t work, because you have to love [fighting] first. If they like it, I’m sure, God willing, I can still give them a little help.