Demian Maia Might Be the Last Great BJJ Specialist

By Edward Carbajal May 22, 2019
When Demian Maia comes up in mixed martial arts, his dominant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu comes to mind for even the most casual of fans. Comedian Bill Burr has called him "human cellophane" and many of his opponents, even the ones he has taken a loss against, know that to clinch with him could lead to a submission. The Brazilian is one of the best jiu-jitsu specialists in the game and he feels that as the sport evolves, fans will see less of them in the sport.

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is considered one of the requisite arts for the sport of MMA but as the sport has evolved, the submission-based martial art has not been the puzzle it was when Royce Gracie displayed it at the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event. Maia (26-9) believes in today's landscape of MMA, the specialists in one discipline of fighting are leaving the sport and more well-rounded competitors are on the rise. "The sport is heading in a new direction and there are a lot of people dreaming about MMA from a young age," Maia told Jiu Jitsu Style.

He still believes specialists will come in the form of Ryan Hall and Garry Tonon but it will not be in the way it was when a fighter was so strong in his discipline, it could be imposed on their opponent. Examples are strikers like Mirko "Cro-Cop" Filipovic, who in his prime would end a fight with one kick, or Mark Coleman, who used his wrestling to ground and pound out a win from his opponents.

"Look at the early Pride FC or UFC events and most guys were either wrestlers, jiu-jitsu fighters or strikers," said Maia. However, as the welterweight found in his bouts against Tyron Woodley and Kamaru Usman, the puzzle a master presents in his specialty can eventually be solved. Maia added, "I think we already see that most people are well rounded now and specialists like me are less common."

While being a jack-of-all-trades in the fight game can lead competitors to become champions, having a base to fall back on still makes fighters like himself a threat. Maia has two fights left on his contract and he plans on becoming "the Brazilian with the most wins" inside the Octagon before he considers what is next in his career.

Edward Carbajal serves as the lead MMA analyst for Frontproof Media and holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in Ishin Ryu karate. He has covered combat sports since 2014 and has been a fan of MMA since the first UFC. You can follow him on Twitter @Carbazel or at his website


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