Make no mistake about it; Dong Hyun Kim is an extraordinary athlete whose judo has carried him a long way. Prior to his battle with Maia, Kim had lost only one of eight fights inside the Octagon, which includes matchups with Nate Diaz and Matt Brown.
Despite Maia's incredible jiu-jitsu prowess, Kim was favored by oddsmakers 2:1. Perhaps it had something to do with Maia's recent tendency to engage in slugfests instead of harnessing the tools that got him his world title shot in the first place.
Last weekend, the Brazilian elected to forego the standup entirely, as he clinched with the judo player and immediately secured his back. The struggle was brief, and Maia slammed his opponent to the canvas where an injury caused a quick finish.
It appears that the dangerous Brazilian has realized that by trying to prove to the world that he is not a one-dimensional fighter, he is no longer posing the imminent threat that he once did. Now that he has returned to his bread and butter, he is a dangerous foe for anyone. But how does he stack up in the UFC's welterweight division?
With a wrestling-centric division that includes a handful of one dimensional grinders like Jon Fitch, Mike Pierce and Aaron Simpson, Maia's brilliant jiu-jitsu might just be the kryptonite to their Superman.
By taking down a renowned judo player like Kim, Maia showed us how much his takedown skills have improved. If Maia is now able to work fights to the ground by simply securing a clinch, he is a big threat to the strikers of the division like Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves so long as he can enter without getting knocked out.
The heavy-handed wrestlers like Johny Hendricks, Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger have the best chance of beating Maia. Their wrestling defense can keep the bout standing, and they are likely to do big damage in the standup battle.
If Maia continues to develop his footwork, head movement and combinations, he will be a threat to everyone in the division. As of right now, he is a fighter who we should keep our eyes on. Until he can get his hands on a Fitch, Alves or Koscheck, we won't fully understand what he is capable of.
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