Demian Maia: “I’d accept a Jiu-Jitsu match”

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Demian celebrating win at UFC 136 / Photo: UFC

Demian Maia got back to his winning ways last Saturday at UFC 136, outpointing fellow-Brazilian Jorge Santiago. In the following interview, Demian comments on MMA’s evolution and the possibility of again donning his gi for a Jiu-Jitsu match.

I noticed that in this fight you applied all the different aspects of MMA very well. You traded strikes standing, landed takedowns, and were masterful on the ground. Do you feel you’ve found balance between the different techniques that make up the sport?

I feel I’m getting more and more balanced. For this fight, I placed great importance on Jiu-Jitsu and takedowns. I didn’t come up with the submission, but besides the opponent being high level, things were a bit tense. I don’t think either of us let loose much in the fight.

Like you said, there was no finish. Do you feel that was your failure, or was it a credit to your opponent?

I don’t think I messed up anywhere. I kept to strategy, which was to stand and trade and then take it to the ground for the finish. Perhaps I didn’t take and risks on the ground so as not to lose my positioning; I was looking for balance. I didn’t want to lose my positioning, to not miss out on getting the submission. But I’m pleased with the fight. I’ve always been very instinctive; this time we laid a strategy and I’m learning to stick with it.

Your record for this year is one win and one loss. How do you feel 2011 has been for you?

I can’t say this year has been bad, if just because the fight with [Mark] Munoz was a good one. I lost the decision but it was close. The main thing for me, regardless of results, is that I evolved a lot. I’ve spent the last two years working on being well-rounded in everything, not just Jiu-Jitsu but striking, takedowns and physical conditioning. I’m still pursuing this, and I believe I’ve become a different fighters since I fought Anderson.

Speaking of Anderson Silva, what do you expect in a likely fight between him and Chael Sonnen?

It’s a good matchup that a lot of people want to see. Anderson’s the champion, the guy to beat, but I think it will be rough for both of them. Anderson’s the favorite, and I’m certain the UFC will put this fight together.

You’ve won the ADCC before. What did you think of the last event? Did you watch any matches?

I haven’t watched the last ADCC yet but really want to. But I did talk to some friends about it and I’m pleased with a number of things. Two friends of mine got to the under-77kg final, Marcelo [Garcia] and Léo [Vieira]. Léo was a teacher of mine and we’ve trained together a lot. André Galvão is also a training partner of mine from way back; I’ve spoken with him since and I’m really happy that he won. There was Xande Ribeiro too… I’m so pleased. I watch the Worlds or ADCC any chance I get. This time I didn’t get to go because it was so close to my fight. I actually wanted to compete there but my priority is the UFC. My life now revolves around the UFC.

You wanted to compete? What if someone made you a good offer to have a Gi or No-Gi match, would you take it?

I’d like to do it and would accept a Jiu-Jitsu match. Last year they offered to set up a match with Jake Shields at the UFC Fan Expo, just after my fight with Anderson. It ended up not happening. But Shields should be moving up in weight now and he’s someone to keep an eye on.

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