Demian Maia gave Jon Fitch a taste of his own medicine.
At UFC 156, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt outwrestled the wrestler en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.
Fitch, a perennial welterweight contender, appeared to be caught off guard by Maia's takedowns. Once the fight hit the floor, it was nearly impossible to escape the clutches of arguably the best jiu-jitsu artist in all of MMA.
The dominant performance over such a highly respected contender served as an eye-opener for the rest of the welterweight division. Maia isn't just another run-of-the-mill contender. He poses a significant threat to anyone at 170 pounds, including UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre.
Maia commented at a post-fight press conference (via MMAWeekly):
I'm very happy because I won, one of the toughest guys in the division and I just remember him losing to GSP and to Johny Hendricks, and I was able to control him. Of course, I always like to submit. I'm training a lot more jiu-jitsu nowadays to submit the fighter and give a good fight for the fans, but sometimes it's just possible.
The win over Fitch puts Maia directly in the hunt for a UFC title shot. He is likely positioned behind Hendricks, who knocked out Fitch over a year ago.
Hendricks is slated to fight Jake Ellenberger in March at UFC 158, and Maia will be watching with great interest. A Hendricks loss would immediately put his name at the forefront of welterweight contenders.
If Hendricks wins, Maia is probably looking at another fight against a top-10 opponent. Names like Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves could be on the UFC's radar.
Maia seems poised to make a serious run in the welterweight division. If his wrestling continues to improve, he could really make things interesting in a potential future showdown with St-Pierre.
It'll take more than "riddum" to survive a grappling battle with Maia.
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