DEMIAN MAIA FOCUSES ON THE JOURNEY, EVOLUTION AHEAD OF TITLE SHOT

By Newsroom on July 27, 2017
DALLAS, TX - MAY 13:  Demian Maia celebrates after his fight against Jorge Masvidal in their Welterweight bout during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center on May 13, 2017 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)DALLAS, TX - MAY 13: Demian Maia celebrates after his fight against Jorge Masvidal in their Welterweight bout during UFC 211 at American Airlines Center on May 13, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
  • The question has been the same for a while now. But every time Demian Maia heard it, after each of his wins over Gunnar Nelson, Matt Brown and Carlos Condit, he took it with his characteristic class.

    Now, he doesn’t have to be asked if he thought he was getting closer to a shot at the UFC welterweight title. On Saturday, he gets it. So now the question is, how did it feel to get that call to challenge champion Tyron Woodley in the UFC 214 co-main event?

    “To be honest, it was kind of different, much different than I thought it would have been a couple of years ago,” Maia said. “For one thing, we have been grinding for so long that it kind of got a bit of that anxiety away, and when I got the news it wasn’t really overwhelming at all.

    “Also, because of the circumstances playing out that we got the offer on somewhat of short notice took away a bit of that normal feeling, as we had to make a decision and start to work right away, instead of enjoying the moment or anything like that.”

    When that call came in, Maia was fresh from a hard-fought May win over Jorge Masvidal that cemented his place as the number one contender at 170 pounds and the next in line for a fight with Woodley. But the 39-year-old from Sao Paulo wasn’t about to turn it down.

    “It does change the way you train for a fight for sure, but it’s one of those situations where you’ve got to make the best out of the chances you have,” he said. “It motivated us to bring new ways of running our training camp, and it got us focused even more on making good use of our time, which was very interesting and productive.”

    And it doesn’t hurt that Maia is coming off a training camp for Masvidal that was followed by a gritty three-rounder that is a nice lead-in for the five rounds ahead this weekend in Anaheim. It’s fights like those that would seemingly be the best preparation for a championship bout, but as Maia points out, every fight counts on the road to the top.

    “Every fight is good preparation for the next one, in a sense, if you remain active,” he said. “Being in rhythm is important for a fighter, and when you are fighting more often it certainly can help you, as long as you are healthy. A hard fight also generally brings you more opportunities to improve, especially when you have more time to work on your game.”

    Since May 2014, Maia has taken the walk to the Octagon seven times and he has won each fight, putting his welterweight record at 10-2 and leaving no doubt about who is worthy for this weekend’s title fight. It’s a good place to be in for Maia, especially since he didn’t know what was going to be next after a 2010 loss in his previous title bout – at middleweight – against Anderson Silva. But like everything he’s experienced, the jiu-jitsu black belt has decided to use that fight as a lesson for what was to come.

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