MMA Analysis: Can Chris Weidman Really Beat Demian Maia?

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The UFC on FOX 2 event features a triple header with the first fight being a middleweight matchup between highly touted prospect Chris Weidman and top ten MMA veteran Demian Maia. The event is set to take place on Saturday night in Chicago at the United Center while airing on FOX beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Weidman isn’t known by many casual fans as he’s still relatively new to the fight game having made his UFC debut less than a year ago. However, he’s been rated as one of the best middleweight prospect out there for a while and this fight could put him on the map if he’s able to defeat a veteran like Maia. It’s a fight that Weidman as taken on short notice due to Maia’s original opponent being shuffled to another fight on the card due to an injury. Let’s see how it shakes out.

Chris Weidman comes into this fight with a career record of (7-0) with three wins via submission and 2 wins via TKO/KO. Weidman was last seen in action choking out TUF veteran Tom Lawlor back at UFC 139 for his third UFC win in a row. Weidman comes from a wrestling background where he was a two time All-American at Hofstra University, and also has experience in submission grappling while competing in the 2009 ADCC submission grappling tournament. Weidman is fairly well rounded and does a good job of mixing up his strikes and wrestling while being versed in submissions on the ground. If I had to name a weakness it would be his cardio at times and obviously his inexperience against someone like Maia. 

Demian Maia comes into this fight with a career record of (15-3) with eight wins via submission and two wins via TKO/KO. Maia was last seen in action winning a unanimous decision victory over former Sengoku middleweight champion Jorge Santiago at UFC 136. Maia comes from a grappling background where he was a world champion multiple times, and also competed in the ADCC submission grappling tournaments while winning it in 2007. Maia has evolved from being primarily a grappler always looking for takedowns to a mixed martial artist who is capable of striking as well nowadays. If I had to name at weakness it would be his reliance on jiu jitsu too much at times, and while his cardio isn’t horrible it could be better.

Bet on Fighting has Weidman as the betting favorite at (-150) with Maia as the underdog at (+120).

It’s impressive that Weidman is the betting favorite in this fight, especially with him taking this fight on about two weeks notice. He’s no stranger to that though as he made his UFC debut under similar circumstances against another MMA veteran in Alessio Sakara. I would probably place a small bet on Maia because of his edge in experience, and the fact that Weidman’s cardio may not be up to par due to not having a full training camp.

I think Weidman has all the tools to win this fight when it’s all said and done with my only concern being his conditioning, and if he’ll be able to fight at a high pace for three rounds. I think his striking is good enough to win the fight standing, and I think his wrestling is good enough to dictate where the fight takes place if he needs to take Maia down. His conditioning could become a factor in that fighters make mistakes when they are tired, particularly when they are grappling and Maia’s not the guy to make a mistake with in that department. Maia has won the UFC ‘submission of the night’ award four times, but hasn’t submitted anyone in almost three years. That’s not to say that his jiu-jitsu isn’t great anymore, it’s moreso of him working diligently on his striking game and fighters being aware of his prowess on the ground. If Weidman’s cardio will allow him to fight at a high pace for the majority of this fight I think he has a very good chance of beating Maia via decision.

I think the key to Maia winning  is simply pushing the pace in this fight and he has done a very good job of that in his past three fights. He has been coming forward with strikes a lot lately and being a lot more aggressive than in years past. This could keep Weidman on the defensive or cause him to shoot for a takedown where Maia really wants the fight to go anyway. Maia is also very good at putting fighters against the cage and using his judo background to take fighters to the mat. If he’s not successful in taking Weidman down from there, it still puts Weidman in a position in which he has to expend energy. Ultimately, that could allow Maia to capatilize later in the fight.

I think it was smart of Weidman to take this fight on short notice as it’s a win-win situation for him. He’s the betting favorite but I think most people realize that Maia is capable of winning this fight. If Weidman wins he remains undefeated while taking out a true veteran and someone who’s considered a top ten middleweight in the world. If he loses, it’s still really early in his career and he would have time to learn from the experience and come back stronger.

With that said, I’m going with Weidman via decision. I think he’s going to keep it on the feet while getting timely takedowns to score points while not allowing Maia enough time to setup submissions once the fight hits the ground.

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